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From Antwerp to Cardiff and back again

30 April 2018

For the last week in April, Dr Sibyl Anthierens from the Department of Primary and Interdisciplinary Care at University of Antwerp has visited the Centre for Trials Research and Division of Population Medicine at Cardiff University.  The aims of this visit were to build on previous collaborations and develop new ones.

Dr Sibyl Anthierens:

‘I left really really early, excited (but a bit apprehensive) for a trip to Cardiff at 4:30am and by 10:30am was in my first meeting with the bubbly Monica Busse. We talked about frameworks for evaluating implementation research and discovered the delights of Coco Ricos (fabulous lunch). I felt immediately at home and everyone was so welcoming and lovely.  This was followed by a week of meetings and enthusiastic debates with fascinating people. Particular highlights were getting to join the qualitative research group for their meetings and an extended journal club around one of my papers [Discrepancies between qualitative and quantitative evaluation of randomised controlled trial results: achieving clarity through mixed methods triangulation]. Getting to stay with two of the people I was visiting (Fiona Wood and Kerry Hood) made me feel really at home.  I had worked with both of them before via EU funded studies and have built firm friendships through working together. Following on from this week we have plans for lots of future collaborations, I have a number of new friends and we already have papers planned. I leave inspired by a strong female leader who creates an environment that encourages people to grow and develop and hope to put this into practice back in Antwerp.’

Prof Kerry Hood:

‘I started this week anxious that all the plans would go well and that Sibyl would enjoy her trip to Cardiff – this was slightly increased by not being able to be there when she arrived due to family reasons.  However, Monica and Fiona came to my rescue and were wonderful hosts for the first day. For the rest of the week I have been in meetings and debates filled with enthusiasm, intelligence and laughter, reminding me of some of the best parts of being an academic and doing research. Getting to learn more about methods that could seem to be so far removed from my own discipline (such as participatory action research), provides a new lens back on everything I do. I have had time away from a focus on management to spent time with an inspiring academic to discuss research, but also to reflect on leadership and development, which I get little time to do in my busy day to day. These reflections are enhanced by discussion on the differences between Wales and Belgium in academic structures and culture. As we face the uncertainties of Brexit, strengthening bonds both professional and personal across the Channel is vitally important and the new ideas for projects, papers and exchange visits will enhance our future research and lives.’

Following on from this visit there are plans for additional research in the areas of antimicrobial resistance and infections in primary care and methodological research around triangulation and secondary analytic approaches in qualitative research.

Thank you to all the people who have engaged and worked with Sibyl over the week including: Lucy Brookes-Howell, Monica Busse, Sue Channon, Nick Francis, Micaela Gal, Dave Gillespie, Nina Gobat, Nina Jacob, Amy Lloyd, Yvonne Moriarty, Annmarie Nelson, Beth Pell, Jeremy Segrott, Kim Smallman, Heather Strange, Fiona Wood.  Thanks also to Samuel Coenen and Roy Remmen, Heads of the Department of Primary and Interdisciplinary Care for supporting Sibyl to come, Health & Care Research Wales for funding travel and Charlie Martin for organising everything.