ABOVE: Clara Gomez Donoso, third from right, reconnects with colleagues from the University of Navarra, where she undertook her PhD in Spain, while on her Portugal-based Knowledge Exchange.
Dr Clara Gomez Donoso is a post-doctoral researcher based in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, at the Global Centre for Preventive Health and Nutrition (GLOBE) at Deakin University’s Institute for Health Transformation. She is a recipient of a Spanish-funded post-doctoral fellowship (Fundación Alfonso Martín Escudero) who works on improving the healthiness of retail food environments through qualitative and quantitative epidemiologic studies. Supported by RE-FRESH International Early-to-Mid-Career Knowledge Exchange Award funding, she attended The Annual Meeting of the Spanish Society of Epidemiology to share her research on industry arguments in response to retail promotion restrictions in Scotland.
She shares her experience:
The Annual Meeting of the Spanish Society of Epidemiology is held every year to discuss and share research findings in the field of public health and epidemiology with the aim of preventing disease and improving health and wellbeing. The 2023 meeting took place in Porto (Portugal) at Abel Salazar Biomedical Sciences Institute – University of Porto in collaboration with the Portuguese Society of Epidemiology from September 5-8, 2023. The conference theme of this year was focused on “Epidemiology for planning the future” and invited the audience to think together about the challenges ahead for public health research and practice as well as possible approaches to address them. The audience included health professionals, academics and government representatives.
ABOVE LEFT: Clara Gomez Donoso presents at the conference.
This is my third time attending The Annual Meeting of the Spanish Society of Epidemiology, which provides a valuable sponsor-free discussion forum among a wide audience. After a year-and-a-half as a post-doctoral research fellow at GLOBE, this was a great opportunity to share some of my work back home and present RE-FRESH research to an international audience. I presented the results of a study exploring the perceptions of industry stakeholders in response to two public consultations in Scotland that represent the first time that retail promotion restrictions have appeared on policy agendas (Industry arguments in relation to food and beverage promotion restrictions: a thematic analysis of responses to a public consultation in Scotland). The study is part of an ARC project grant on unhealthy food and beverage price promotions led by RE-FRESH investigators from GLOBE (Prof. Kathryn Backholer, A/Prof. Adrian Cameron and Prof. Gary Sacks) in collaboration with researchers from the University of Cambridge. Findings of this study can be of interest for researchers and public health actors globally to anticipate industry responses and counter their arguments on novel policy proposals targeting unhealthy food retail promotions.
Although the conference covered a broad range of topics, some that stood out for me included our evolving digital society and the challenges, as well as the opportunities it brings. For example, there was an interesting presentation on the use of artificial intelligence to facilitate data entry and estimation of nutritional, environmental, and economic characteristics of dietary data.
‘I presented the results of a study exploring the perceptions of industry stakeholders in response to two public consultations in Scotland that represent the first time that retail promotion restrictions have appeared on policy agendas’
Clara Gomez Donoso, Knowledge Exchange recipient
Health in all policies was another central topic, with very interesting sessions on urban health showing the impact of gentrification and residential relocation on health outcomes and inequalities. I would also highlight the use of less traditional qualitative methods like photovoice and citizen participation in the proposal and design of local public health policies of particular interest.
There was also an important discussion space for scientific misconduct, conflicts of interest, and the need to transition from “publish or perish” towards a “slow science” culture as the increasingly frenetic pace of academic life threatens the quality of research.
Overall, it was a great opportunity to network with old and new colleagues and learn about public health research being conducted in Portugal and Spain. It was also exciting to disseminate knowledge on a novel policy (retail promotion restrictions) to improve the healthiness of food retail environments among this audience. I am grateful for this opportunity which has allowed me to reconnect with my Spanish colleagues and start building a national reputation on this research field.
ABOVE: Networking was assisted by sustenance from typical Portuguese egg custard tart pastries.