Tips and traps: Holding an open meeting online at #EAPC2020 … and #EAPC2021

EAPC Task Force and Reference Group Co-chairs reflect on holding an open meeting in an online congress – and encourage you to follow their example at #EAPC2021…

Left to right: Lizzie Chambers, Ana Lacerda (Children and Young People Task Force), David Oliver, Simone Veronese (Neurology Reference Group – Palliative Care), Sébastien Moine and Scott Murray (Primary Care Reference Group).

Open meetings are an important feature of EAPC congresses: a chance to showcase some of the incredible work that lies behind the hardworking task forces, reference groups and collaborative projects that form the backbone of the EAPC (European Association for Palliative Care). One advantage of hosting our first online congress was the access we had to data. Despite the three days of live/interactive congress being long, many delegates chose to attend open meetings of our EAPC groups, which took place during the coffee and lunch breaks. Attendance at open meetings during in-person congresses can be low, with just a few participants depending on the topic. But during the online congress, attendance ranged from 31 to 113 participants, with an average attendance of 70 delegates.

In this post, the chairs of some EAPC groups explain what it was like to hold their first online open meeting. We hope that their comments, laced with some useful things to consider, will spur you on to join our World Congress Online in October 2021, either as a delegate or to hold an online meeting.

Lizzie Chambers and Ana Lacerda co-chaired the EAPC Children and Young People  Task Force Open Meeting:

We took advantage of holding our live open meeting during the lunchtime session of the dedicated Seminar on Children’s Palliative Care during the 2020 World Research Congress. This opportunity was amazing for our taskforce. 

This kind of virtual conference was a first for many of us and despite some anxiety about how it would all work, the technology was actually really simple even for us old folk!  We also noticed that the virtual format meant that we had many more questions than we would normally have at a face-to-face event and the 45-minute slot was well filled.

We had two excellent presentations from Dr Jo Taylor from the University of York, talking about the findings from the SHARE study, which was looking at family experiences with Covid-19, and from Dr Eve Namisango from the Cicely Saunders Institute talking about progress with the development of a children’s palliative outcome scale. Our third speaker was going to talk about the impact of the pandemic on services and how telehealth will become a major way to provide Children’s Palliative Care in the future. The only major glitch we had was with forgetting that this speaker was in Australia and the different time zone meant that she fell asleep before her presentation!  

Reflecting on the event, we felt that it would have been better if we had made our session more interactive, for example having members of our task force hosting discussions at virtual tables and with more linkage back to the work of the task force.  

We all felt that there were some real advantages to having a virtual congress, not least that it meant that it was easier for delegates from low-income countries to attend.

Our task force would welcome future meetings being a hybrid of face-to-face and virtual to make the most of both worlds. 


David Oliver and Simone Veronese co-hosted the EAPC Neurology Reference Group  – Palliative Care Open Meeting:

Our meeting was successful with 31 people attending. We had some discussion – maybe not quite so easy as in face-to-face meetings – but it was very helpful to have Simone as a co-host to help keep the discussion going. We would recommend two hosts for such discussions, to make the most of the meeting.

One feature that was really useful was the opportunity to have a dedicated webpage on the congress platform. This helped to raise awareness of the Reference Group. Overall, it was worthwhile holding our open meeting, but we did feel restricted by being online.  


Scott Murray and Sébastien Moine, Co-chairs, EAPC Primary Care Reference Group, reported on their group’s virtual meeting in a separate post published on the blog, EAPC Primary Care Reference Group Open Meeting goes live at #EAPC2020. Describing it as a very lively and informative meeting, they claimed to have (possibly!) the youngest participant Zooming in from Taiwan with his dad.


Dr Sunitha Daniel.

Dr Sunitha Daniel was a delegate at the congress and took part in a group discussion during the live congress. Sunitha is a Specialist Medical Officer in Palliative Medicine and Community Oncology, National Health Mission, General Hospital, Kochi, Kerala, in India, and currently a PhD student in the UK.

The EAPC 2020 virtual congress was an innovative and great learning experience. The on-demand presentations gave us opportunity to listen to lectures in advance and in our own time also with the facility to ask questions in advance. The technology worked very well; interactive sessions using the chat box as well as Q&A functions enabled a group discussion during live session. Due to considerations of travel and other expenses, I am likely to be opting for virtual events in future if available.


Explore new dimensions in palliative care at #EAPC2021…

The Scientific Committee, led by Professor Fliss Murtagh, are putting together an exciting programme that promises you “the opportunity to be re-energised; to hear about exciting innovations and progress from within our palliative care community, and the wider services and communities with whom we work”. (See Fliss Murtagh’s post on this blog). But we need your input too – please think about submitting an abstract for #EAPC2021 and help us explore these new dimensions in palliative care. Read more about Abstract Submission here – you have until 14 February to submit!

Please join us at the 17thEAPC World Congress Online – interactive live sessions 6 to 8 October 2021. View our congress website to find out more, or dive in and register now!

If you’d like information about holding an Open Meeting, please email our congress coordinator, Claudia Sütfeld.


Links and resources

This entry was posted in 11th EAPC World Research Congress Online, 17th EAPC World Congress, EAPC Task Forces/Reference Groups, EAPC World Research Congresses. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Tips and traps: Holding an open meeting online at #EAPC2020 … and #EAPC2021

  1. Pingback: Notizie dalla EAPC | SICP

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