The JBI colloquium – Shared challenges across disciplines

Text and photos by Ciara Keenan, Systematic Reviewer, Campbell UK & Ireland Centre, and blogger (Meta-Evidence

The 10th Biennial Joanna Briggs Institute Colloquium was held in Antwerp last week. The colloquium was an inquiry into the ‘successful implementation of evidence-based practice: Hard work or good luck?’ This core question was discussed in detail over the three days the conference lasted, but I anticipate the discussions will continue long into the future.

 The tracks available during the conference

Prior to this conference I believed, rather naively, that the evidence will simply speak for itself. If evidence is not being implemented then the practitioners must not know about it yet, there is a resource issue, or the research has been poorly conducted or reported. I quickly discovered that this is not the case, and sometimes the reluctance to implement evidence is much more complex. One keynote speaker talked about the evidence that patients should drink clear fluids up to two hours prior to surgery, however, in practice many healthcare professionals instruct their patients to extend this period to six or eight hours prior to surgery, as was previously advised. The audience discussed how this reluctance to change was common in their settings, and how sometimes doctors are aware of the evidence- based guidelines but remain risk adverse. This is just one of many examples presented over the course of the conference and each one posed new challenges for those present.  

Ciara Keenan and Howard White

Representing the Campbell Collaboration, who promote positive social and economic change through the production and use of high quality systematic reviews. Myself, and our CEO Howard White were present and involved in various interactions between the colloquium’s attendees. Our exhibition stand provided materials including plain language summaries and policy briefs which enabled us to highlight how the Campbell Collaboration takes the implementation of evidence seriously and demonstrated how this model looks in practice. 


These have been an exciting few years for the Campbell Collaboration. The Campbell UK and Ireland centre, directed by Paul Connolly and Sarah Millar, has been launched. While the global collaboration, under the leadership of Howard White and Vivian Welch, has witnessed the instigation of committed and concentrated collaboration across multiple disciplines. The future has never been brighter.


During the conference, Howard presented the very first Evidence and Gap Map on homelessness.

Howard White presenting evidence and gap maps This really piqued the interest of the delegates and various discussions on the application of the method to their area of expertise followed the presentation. Howard is providing a workshop on Evidence and Gap maps in Queen’s university, Belfast on the 29th May for those who want to learn more about this innovative methodology which shows us what is known, and not known on a topic. For more information and to book your place, contact Amy Kerr

On the flight back to Belfast I considered what I had learned from this experience. First, conferences are a unique opportunity to share common experiences with others. The bringing together of people who share some areas of expertise allow nuanced discussion and solutions that are not possible if working alone.

 Howard White explaining evidence and gap maps to a delegate from an organisation in Africa


Second, the implementation of useful evidence is complex, but work being done by the Campbell Collaboration with publication of digestible policy briefs, and plain language summaries are moving things in the right direction. And finally, systematic review methods do not belong to any one discipline and for the good of the field I would encourage all users to leave their disciplinary ego at the door and allow collaboration between the various networks to occur. The similarities between the issues and challenges we face are striking and far outweigh our disciplinary differences.

Contact us

  • P.O. Box 222 Skøyen
    0213 Oslo
  • +47 2107 8100