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The 18th Annual European Congress of Rheumatology (EULAR) celebrated its 70th anniversary with a second visit to the beautiful city of Madrid on the 14-17 June, where several researchers from Keele University’s Research Institute for Primary Care and Health Sciences braved the scorching temperatures to showcase their dedication to the research of inflammatory conditions.

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Christian Mallen wearing the EULAR campaign t-shirt 'Don't delay, Connect today (left), and Rebecca Whittle presenting SPCR research (right)

EULAR is always a unique event, which welcomes the exchange of scientific and clinical information – welcoming over 14,000 patients, clinicians, scientists, researchers, and health professionals from across the globe. 

A record number of abstracts were submitted for this year’s congress, with the scientific panel having to select only 180 sessions and poster tours from over 4,000 high quality submissions.  President of EULAR, Gerd R. Bermester, highlighted that this was a great reflection on the increasing interest in rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases (RMDs), which EULAR’s incorporation of health professionals and patient organisations has helped influence. 

Professor Christian Mallen, SPCR training director and co-director at the Research Institute, Keele University was one of the many Keele researchers to present his primary care perspective on the importance of General Practitioners enhancing the early diagnosis of Rheumatic Diseases. The presentation was part of EULAR’s latest campaign ‘Don’t Delay, Connect Today’, which for the first time, engages all three EULAR pillars – patient organisations (PARE), health professional associations and scientific communities.

Various members of the Institute’s Patient and Public Involvement and Engagement (PPIE) team also attended the event. Carol Rhodes, was invited to speak on the highlights of EULAR’s ‘People with Arthritis and Rheumatism’ (PARE) programme, which attracts a wide audience including committed representatives of patient organisations who will use their acquired knowledge to educate and influence a wide range of stakeholders about RMDs.  Adele Higginbottom and Laura Campbell also presented their poster as part of the ‘PARE’ tour, which celebrates the ten years of patient involvement in research of inflammatory conditions, particularly the input and changes they made to two recent studies. 

Although the conference only lasted 4 days, delegates were able to engage in intense discussion and network with peers, and share the latest advances in the field of RMDs through lectures, workshops, abstracts, poster presentation and symposia, with the PARE community showcasing hot topics, such as psychological well-being, co-morbidities, employment for young people, health equity, access to health care and the importance of early diagnosis. To put the icing on the cake, this year’s congress also celebrated the launch of the EULAR School of Rheumatology, which aims to be a unique way of providing education in rheumatology throughout the world.

Laura Campbell, PPIE Knowledge Broker commented;

“EULAR has been a fantastic opportunity for the Keele team to meet and learn from inspirational patients, health care practitioners and researchers, who are all working hard on projects on research studies to improve the lives of patients living with arthritis and rheumatoid conditions.”

Details of the programme and next year’s congress, can be found on the website; www.congress.eular.org

With thanks to Robyn Till, Research Institute for Primary Care & Health Sciences, Keele University, for writing this piece.