Enlightened, energised and slightly sunburned – that’s how I left the General Assembly (GA)-meeting of CoCA. This meeting took place from 19 – 22 March in Barcelona. After the kick-off meeting last year, this was the second time that all researchers came together and shared their findings, expertise and problems concerning the research on comorbid conditions of ADHD (CoCA). The meeting made clear that despite everyone’s different backgrounds, nationalities and expertise, we’re all working towards the same goal: reducing the burden of comorbid conditions in ADHD.
In 2 days I had listened to updates from researchers, talked about the latest findings and struggles in the various research groups, and informed the CoCA group about the progress we had made in the dissemination and valorisation workpackage. My ears were spinning, my throat was dry and my brain was tired, but the meeting had been a great success. Let me summarise my personal highlights from this meeting.
- Comorbid conditions in ADHD are prevalent, and costly
The first epidemiological findings of CoCA are currently being written up. Very large databases from Sweden, Germany and Estonia have been studied to investigate the prevalence and costs of comorbid conditions in ADHD. The results will likely make a strong case that comorbid conditions in ADHD are very common, and that better treatment of these conditions is expected to reduce societal costs. You can expect some interesting and important papers to appear this or next year.
What has already been published in the past year is for instance this paper on the genetic overlap between ADHD and bipolar disorder (Van Hulzen et al. 2016).
- The first intervention studies with patients have started
Other CoCA researchers have been working hard to get the first intervention studies up and running. In Frankfurt am Main, the first participants have started in the PROUD-trials (see this recent blog post). Using both bright-light therapy and regular physical exercises, we hope that symptoms of depression and obesity in adolescents and adults with ADHD will decrease. This same study will also run in Nijmegen (NL), London (UK) and Barcelona (SP). So no results yet, but exciting things are coming up!
- CoCA researchers are actively disseminating and communicating the project
On the dissemination and communication side, which I’m personally involved in, things are moving forward as well. I was very happy to hear from many different researchers how they are informing children, adults, patients, health care professionals and other parties about the work that we are doing. In Spain for instance, researchers go to schools to inform pupils about ADHD and comorbid conditions. And in Germany, health care professionals are informed about the co-occurrence of depression, substance abuse and obesity with ADHD. We are also closely collaborating with the ADHD patient organisation ADHD-Europe, who are a great help in disseminating our messages to ADHD patients and their families.
Additionally, this blog is receiving an increasing number of visitors and followers. Although still somewhat hesitant, the CoCA researchers themselves start to get excited about writing posts for this blog. And after I gave a workshop on ‘how to write a blogpost’ at this meeting, I expect that many more posts will appear in the next months.
- Philips is interested in our project and gave us useful advice
Besides the research findings and publications that CoCA will generate, we want the project to have additional societal impact. For instance, that the tools of our intervention study that we are now testing could be further developed by a company. We had therefore invited someone from Philips to join our meeting, listen to what we’re doing and give feedback from an industrial perspective. I learned for instance that when at Philips a new product is developed, they always first ask what problem they are solving, and for whom. Seems pretty obvious, right? But it’s a good thing to keep in mind also when designing studies.
- The weather was perfect
Let’s be honest, the weather in Barcelona was another highlight. Although most of the meetings were indoors, lunch and tea breaks allowed us to enjoy the Spanish sun. And if you’re coming from Northern Europe, this is a welcome treat after a long and dark winter. I would vote to have next year’s meeting in a sunny place again!
So now the real work starts. With the first results coming out, dissemination activities can really start taking place. We have also come up with the idea to make tip-sheets about CoCA that every member can use for dissemination. This way, our activities will be more coordinated and combined.
Keep following this blog for updates on CoCA (and the other consortia), as well as our new Twitter account @mindgap_psy