Opportunities for the improvement of psychological assistance discussed at international conference
From 25 to 27 April the Medical Education Technology Centre of Rīga Stradiņš University (RSU) hosted the 5th International scientific and practical conference Health and Personality Development: An Interdisciplinary Approach involving Latvian and foreign experts on psychology, communication, healthcare and other fields.
RSU contribution to the National Research Programme
The conference started with a symposium dedicated to Project No. 3 of the National Research Programme Latvia’s Heritage and Future Challenges for National Sustainability ‘Challenges and Solutions of Latvian State and Society in an International Framework (INTERFRAME-LV)’. Presenting the progress of the project, the head of the project LAS Academician Baiba Rivža emphasised the importance of the project in assessing the conformity of the national economy and of the modern society model with modern challenges in Europe and the world as well as in developing guidelines for a sustainable development of the Latvian state. It thus contributes to evidence-based policy planning and development. This year researchers will assess the impact of geopolitical events, national security threats, climate change, global public radicalisation processes, stratification and ageing, as well as the spread of digitalisation in Latvia within the framework of the project.
RSU has already made a significant contribution to achieving the project’s objectives by analysing data on the public perception of security, conducting a sociological survey, actively cooperating with partners such as the European Commission Representation in Latvia, the Employers’ Confederation of Latvia, the Latvian Association of Journalists, as well as developing doctoral theses. Next year the project will analyse the cooperation of employers and employees, as well as public and private capital, the convergence of knowledge and practical skills, as well as tolerance and sensitivity in today’s society, while in 2021 main strategic directions for the national economy and the establishment of a society model will be developed. The largest Latvian institutions of higher education are also involved in the implementation of the project together with RSU, which is an excellent example of cooperation.
Visiting lecturers comment on the conference
More than 60 reports were presented at the conference. Six outstanding experienced visiting lecturers from the United Kingdom, the United States, Portugal and Lithuania took part addressing research directions in psychology based on innovative approaches and the use of technology, as well as about the issues of qualitative research, which was the focus of this conference. Jennifer Rusted, Professor of Psychology at the University of Sussex (UK), talked about the prevalence of dementia in the modern world and the tools for the possibility of containing it. A new case of dementia occurs every three seconds in the world. In 2015 there were 46.8 million dementia patients in the world, but expert estimates suggest that by 2050 the number could triple reaching 131.5 million. To reduce the risk of illness, Professor Rusted recommends a scientifically proven and simple yet efficient means – follow a healthy diet, check your heart rate, challenge and employ your brain, and be physically and socially active. She also oversaw a working group on the subject.
When commenting on the conference, Professor Rusted mentioned the interdisciplinary approach of practitioners and researchers from different fields coming together as particularly valuable. The professor believes that one of the achievements of the conference was the opportunity for scientists to learn more about practitioners’ questions, and for practitioners to better understand what scientists can offer, what the latest research is and what is currently being analysed.
Ekaterina Vinnik, a researcher from Portugal, talked about the impact of everyday events on people's behaviour and stress management. She highly appreciated the wide range of participants that enabled gaining new ideas from various professions.
May our wishes match our capabilities
The Latvian Clinical Personality Test was presented during the conference that was developed at RSU within the framework of the BIOMEDICINE national research programme. The test provides a versatile assessment of a person’s mental state, emotional and social adaptability, emotional response, behavioural characteristics and pathological behaviour symptoms. The test can also be used for personnel selection.
Qualitative research was accented in a comprehensive manner at the conference with three sections and masterclasses devoted to it. Participants of the panel discussion Opportunities and Challenges for the Development of the Professional Competence of Supervision in Different Professional Environments discussed the competences of a supervisor in the business and education environment, as well as other issues.
Several masterclasses conducted by visiting lecturers, lecturers of Latvian institutions of higher education and professionals took place on the last day of the conference. These provided an opportunity to learn more about issues covered in the theoretical reports, such as treating depression, the psychobiology of aging and dementia, as well as specific work methods in supervision and art therapy.
The department’s 5th anniversary
The Department of Health Psychology and Paedagogy of the RSU Faculty of Public Health and Social Welfare that organised the international conference was established on 1 June 2014. Intensive work has been carried out over this period to provide modern psychological and pedagogical education within health care, carry out high-quality research and establish and develop local and international cooperation, including with representatives of Great Britain, Israel, USA, Lithuania and other countries, as well as European professional organisations.