Impressions of the EUSPR 2019 Conference by the Early Career Forum

This year, the 10th conference and Members’ Meeting of the European Society for Prevention Research (EUSPR) was held in Ghent, Belgium from September 16th to 18th. Overall, it was a wonderful conference in a timeless venue, with lovely weather, good food, and edifying sessions and presentations. The conversations with our colleagues from Europe and from several non-European countries were inspiring and united a variety of disciplines in the area of prevention.

The Early Careers Forum that consists of early career researchers interested in prevention science, was particularly well represented at this year’s conference. Here are some numbers to illustrate this point:

  • About 1/3 of all the conference’s participants were early career researchers
  • 20 early career bursaries were awarded (€300 each) to facilitate conference attendance
  • Early Career researchers delivered 20 presentations in 3 specific Early Career parallel sessions
  • The Early Careers Forum organised a pre-conference networking event and a post-conference workshop
  • The EUSPR granted three Early Career Awards

Below we provide a more detailed overview of this year’s conference highlights and conference attendees’ impressions. You can always find more information and additional pictures on our Facebook page, Twitter, or Instagram.

Pre-Conference Networking Event

Already a tradition at the EUSPR Conference, the EUSPR Early Career Forum members were welcomed with a networking dinner on the evening of September 15th.

Carmen Torrejón, PhD student at the Seville University and Maastricht University, was attending an EUSPR event for the first time and summarized her experience as follows:

“Organizing an early career pre-conference dinner was a fantastic idea. Participants were able to get to know each other before the conference started. Personally, it helped me to feel more confident for the oral presentation of my PhD work which took place the day after. In addition, the pre-conference organizers initiated a game to gather our perspectives on conference topics and get us in the best mindset for the conference.”

Early Career Forum Networking Dinner. Credits @EUSPR

Post-Conference Workshop – Graphical Approach to Confounding in Epidemiological Studies – an Introduction to Directed Acyclic Graphs (DAGs)

The post-conference workshop led by Maria Rosaria Galanti and Elena Raffetti (Karolinska Institute, Sweden) offered an introduction to a visual method useful in assessing confounding, the directed acyclic graphs (DAGs). It was attended by 14 participants and consisted of a theoretical and a practical session. Participants had the opportunity to create DAG for their research questions and got familiarized with the online tools which can be used to identify confounders once the DAG is created (e.g.,

Two of the participants, Matea Belošević and Andrea Ćosić, both Research and Teaching Assistants at the Faculty of Education and Rehabilitation Sciences, University of Zagreb shared their impression about the workshop:

„The workshop was extremely useful and informative for us. It was conceived as an introduction to the DAG method and its applications. We especially want to highlight the comfortable work atmosphere in which we were able to learn together with other participants and think about the method through our own examples.“

Post-Conference Workshop – Graphical Approach to Confounding in Epidemiological Studies – an Introduction to Directed Acyclic Graphs (DAGs). Credits @EUSPR

Early Career Sessions

For the first Early Careers parallel session, 6 Early Career participants had presented and discussed with the audience the results of their research.

  • Giovanni Aresi, the winner of the last year’s Outstanding Poster Presentation talked about the “Predictors of mentoring relationship quality: a mixed methods study on a school-based mentoring programme”;
  • Emina Mehanović addressed the question “Do the parental permissive attitudes toward cigarette smoking and alcohol use influence illicit drug use among adolescents?”;
  • Natasha Koper presented on “Connecting the Informal Care System and Formal Care System of Multiproblem Families through Youth Initiated Mentoring (YIM)”;
  • Sara Bortoluzzi discussed “The impact of brief motivational counseling for smoking cessation in an Italian Emergency Department”;
  • María del Carmen Torrejón Guirado talked about “Cannabis consumption in school-based adolescents: sex and personality traits”;
  • Parvati Perman-Howe presented “The effect of alcohol strength on alcohol consumption: findings from a randomised controlled crossover pilot trial”.

In the second Early Careers parallel session, 4 Early Careers presented their work through a classic oral presentation, whereas 4 others got the opportunity to present their work through an oral poster presentation – a new format at the EUSPR conference.

We got the privilege to hear the work of:

  • Batul Rojeab presenting “Motives, consequences and consumption patterns of alcohol and cannabis in college students of Quito-Ecuador”;
  • Víctor José Villanueva presenting “Multidisciplinary and multicomponent approach to the cannabis-tobacco joint: ÉVICT project”;
  • Bartosz Zaniewski discussing “Attachment strategies among young people who exhibited harmful sexual behaviour – Developmental pathway considering intergenerational attachment dynamics”;
  • Barak Shapira talking about “Self-report of illicit drug substitution behavior in a sample of Israeli high-risk drug users”.

The Early Careers who have presented their work through an oral poster were:

  • Maite Kefauver presenting “Attitudes towards alcohol use: a study among young adults and teenagers drinking in the streets”;
  • Sarah Hennelly presenting “Stand by or step up? Exploring student attitudes to intervening in harassment and assault”;
  • Katarina Perić talking about “Refugee children in Croatia: experiences, needs and expectations”;
  • Antje Kula talking about “Promoting problem solving skills – strengthening resilience – how to measure?”.

The last Early Careers parallel session was a women-only panel! Six great presenters were able to discuss their project, their findings and their thoughts about it.

  • Amanda van Loon presented “The effectiveness of school-based intervention programs targeting stress in adolescents: a multilevel meta-analysis”;
  • Sabina Mandić talked about “The effectiveness of the “who really wins?” Youth gambling prevention program – results with regard to different types of high-school”;
  • María del Carmen Torrejón-Guirado introduced “A web based computer tailoring intervention based on the gamification vs texts for binge drinking prevention in adolescent: protocol study”;
  • Silvia Caristia presented “Exercise and prevention of fall in elderly: a systematic review and meta-analysis of Cochrane studies”;
  • Andrea Ćosić discussed “Elements that can encourage child participation in school”
  • The Wojcieszek sisters were back at the EUSPR conference with Maria, Kinga and Joanna presenting “Emotional learning as the interdisciplinary positive approach within universal prevention”.

The program including all the abstracts is available online:

Early Career Awards

The number of Early Career preventionists presenting their research either through oral presentations or posters was higher than at previous EUSPR conferences. The Early Career Award for outstanding promise based on an oral presentation went to Parvati Perman-Howe (Oxford Brookes University) for the research “The effect of alcohol strength on alcohol consumption: findings from a randomised controlled crossover pilot trial”.

Jeremy Segrott, president of the EUSPR, awards Parvati Perman-Howe for her Early Career Outstanding presentation. Credits @EUSPR

For the Early Career Award for outstanding promise based on a poster presentation, we had two winners: Anne Bijlsma (University of Amsterdam) for the research “What Works for Whom in Prevention of Child Maltreatment: The Development of a Responsivity Instrument” and Sarah Ricupero (University Paul Valéry Montpellier 3) for the research “Systematic review of theory-based interventions aimed at reducing binge drinking among adolescents”.

Jeremy Segrott, president of the EUSPR, Sarah Ricupero and Anne Bijlsma, winners of the Early Career Award for outstanding promise based on a poster presentation (left to right)

Congratulations Parvati, Anne and Sarah!

Final Word: Newcomers’ Impressions About the Overall Conference

“The conference exceeded my expectations and people who organized and attended it were really wonderful. The lovely city of Ghent was very welcoming – a perfect setting for this conference. Moreover, I was impressed by the innovative ways the organisers used to engage the public in the discussion. One of the tools was the <<catch box>>, a microphone integrated into a cube that was passed around after plenary sessions presentations or during sofa talks; whoever got the <<catch box>> expressed their opinions about the topic discussed at that time. The other tool was the live survey that allowed us to answer immediately online with our phones. Getting the opinions of such a large number of participants is difficult, but the live survey allowed anyone to share their opinion.” Carmen Torrejón

“The conference was a valuable experience for our personal and professional development. The biggest personal gain of the conference was the fruitful exchange with senior and early career researchers. We were impressed by their readiness to share their knowledge and experiences with us. In addition to rich prevention science insights, we also made new acquaintances at the conference. We strongly recommend to all early careers in the field of prevention science to follow the events of the EUSPR and the Early Career Forum, specifically – they provide numerous opportunities for research collaboration and professional growth.” Matea Belošević and Andrea Ćosić


About the authors:

Samuel Tomczyk the EUSPR ECF Lead and Sinziana Oncioiu, ECF Blog Editor-in-Chief were responsible for compiling the accounts of ECF members participating at the EUSPR 2019 conference. Boris Chapoton monitored the Early Career Awards and the Parallel sessions, Carmen Torrejón, PhD student Matea Belošević and Andrea Ćosić, Research and Teaching Assistants shared their impressions of the conference in general and of the post-conference workshop, pre-conference event and ECF parallel sessions. Larissa J. Maier reviewed and offered valuable inputs for improving the text. For further information, you can contact Samuel at samuel.tomczyk[at]


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