When Becky went to TSANZ 2018

I was privileged to be asked to continue the tradition of Cochrane Airways Co-ordinating Editors' attendance at the annual Thoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand (TSANZ) conference. As well as the Cochrane Airways Australia satellite, we have a fantastic group of authors and editors from this part of the world and it’s great to meet them in person, share ideas and encourage one another. I was particularly delighted to be going as I’ve never visited Australia before, despite an aunt of mine living in Sydney for the past 10 years.

After spending a week in Sydney swimming in rock pools, climbing the Harbour Bridge, walking in the Blue Mountains, drinking coffee and feeding cashew nuts to a King Parrot in my aunt’s garden, I headed to Adelaide for the TSANZ meeting. After settling in to my hotel, I was warmly welcomed by Julia Walters (Cochrane Airways Australia Coordinator) and her husband, Haydn both of whom are long-serving Editors with Airways. I cannot thank Julia enough for her support, advice, organisation and friendship throughout my stay. 

The first day of the conference was a busy one for me, as I gave presentations both at the Cochrane Postgraduate Workshop and the Consumer Forum alongside Airways editor and author, Christian Osadnik. Topics covered at the Workshop included an introduction to network meta-analysis and diagnostic test accuracy reviews, the Risk of Bias 2.0 tool and common errors made by Cochrane authors and editors. Christian’s talk at the Consumer Forum sparked an interesting discussion about evidence of the benefit of exercise for people with long-term breathing problems. Christian also explained that the Cochrane Airways Review about pulmonary rehabilitation for COPD is now ‘closed’, as there is such convincing evidence that it works.  It was a pleasure to meet Heather Allan, CEO of Lung Foundation Australia, who attended and presented at the Consumer Forum. 

Over the following few days, I attended many interesting sessions, including a fascinating and moving account given by the Governor of South Australia, His Excellency The Honourable Hieu Van Le, of his arrival in Australia by boat in 1977 as a refugee from Vietnam. I also met informally with several Airways authors to discuss ongoing reviews and future ideas, troubleshoot and put faces to names. This opportunity to meet with people in person was one of the highlights of the trip.

On the final day of the conference I enjoyed presenting at the Evidence Based Medicine Special Interest Group oral session, using Cochrane Reviews about inhaled magnesium for asthma as a starting point for illustrating some challenges with meta-analysis. In the evening I met with Airways editors and we were delighted that Francine Ducharme, normally based in Canada but in Australia for a sabbatical, was also able join us. We had a great discussion and I came away with lots of ideas for Cochrane Airways going forwards, many of which Emma Dennett and I have started to implement.

My fiancé Nick joined me in Adelaide on the final day and we hired a car to drive back to Melbourne along the Great Ocean Road, before heading home. We managed to tick off sightings of wallabies, kangaroos, koalas and a bandicoot (which we initially mistook to be a chubby rat) en route – not bad at all!

Becky Normansell, Joint Co-ordinating Editor