Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Cassandra Wright presents pilot study on youth binge drinking in Sweden

SPHPM PhD Candidate, Research Officer and Tutor, Cassandra Wright, recently travelled to Stockholm in Sweden to present her pilot study findings at the 42nd Annual Alcohol Epidemiology Symposium of the Kettil Bruun Society (KBS) for alcohol researchers from around the world.

The KBS is named after Kettil Bruun (1924-1985), a renowned Finnish researcher who pioneered the area of alcohol social research. The KBS now serves to promote social and epidemiological research that fosters a comparative understanding of the social aspects of alcohol use and alcohol problems.

Cassandra attended with colleagues with Adjunct Professor Paul Dietze and Adjunct Research Fellow Nick Scott from the Burnet Institute. She was one of the youngest researchers to present their findings to the Symposium, which offers a unique opportunity for detailed feedback from a discussant, with questions from the audience on the research presented and proposed manuscript.

“I can honestly say that it was the most useful event I've ever attended. I was fortunate enough to have a couple of renowned researchers in my field attend my presentation and provide advice. I also had the opportunity to chair a session, which was a great experience as well,” Cassandra said.

Her study involves trialling the use of personalised mobile phone text messages to help young Australians to curb their binge drinking; titled the ‘Mobile Intervention for Drinking in Young People’ (MIDY), the study has recently garnered widespread media attention.

The five-day Symposium brought together researchers from all over the world in the domains of social, epidemiological and cross-cultural alcohol research and Ms Wright said the opportunity for feedback on her manuscript was highly valuable.

“It sounds intimidating but there is a great culture at the KBS where the feedback is both constructive but friendly, and presenters tend to take it graciously as they know it will improve their manuscript,” Cassandra said.

“The idea is then to aim to submit and have the paper published by the time of the next Symposium. It has pushed and inspired me to write a paper that I wasn't sure I would have time to write, which was focused on the development of an alcohol brief intervention for young people,” she said.

Out of work hours, there was also a bit of time to both network and explore, with 18.5 hours of daylight in Stockholm. Highlights for the Burnet team included the Vasa Museum, seeing the golden room at Stockholm City Hall and the sunny 27 degree Stockholm weather which was a welcome change from wintry Melbourne.

The KBS Symposium also hosts an annual friendly soccer match between delegates.

“Paul and I let Nick represent Burnet & SPHPM while we sat on the sidelines with our dodgy knees. I also went along to an annual meeting for researchers focusing on alcohol's harm to others, and I hope to be more involved with that network in the future.”

Cassandra travelled to Stockholm for the KBS Symposium with support from a Monash Postgraduate Travel Award.

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