Day 3 at #EACS2017 and my neurone nourishment started with an Antipasto of "Abstract Writing" by Caroline Sabin (Professor of Medical Statistics and Epidemiology at University College London (UCL)). This was an early morning session and the smaller audience lent itself well to an interactive tutorial style where we were asked to critique a ‘poorly written abstract’. Here are the bite-sized “do’s and don’ts”.
TITLE – Should be short and snappy. DO NOT inaccurately represent the project. Questions are often great to pose in a title.
INTRO – V. brief! One sentence to describe the problem and one to describe the research. Hook the reader here by this point the reader should know what you are going to do.
METHOD – Population, location & dates. Identify assessments and methods, endpoints and outcomes. Describe the stats method (no need to mention the stats model used), DO mention confounders. DO NOT put results here and no need to mention detail such as assay types etc.
RESULTS – DO mention brief demographics of sample, this section should be numbers rich, confidence intervals and comparative statistics. DO NOT discuss interpretations here.
CONCLUSIONS – DO NOT repeat results (keep it brief). DO aim for one or two statements – How will this help? What is the future? Any major limitations?
Having reviewed many of the abstracts for EACS Caroline’s feeling is that the abstracts tell the reviewer as much about you as it does about your research. With this in mind her final tips included ensuring correct English language and grammar, is this the right conference for you?, no need for references, use ‘dashes’ effectively they will help your word count, be careful with bold and italics it does not always translate, a little tip …if you must use a table JPEG images often only use one character, avoid jargon. Finally she commented that abstracts that did not get accepted are largely due to lack of clarity on the project, inappropriate for the conference, poor study design, no sample size mentioned, no bias acknowledged, no clinical value.
Next up for something to chew on was the first plenary Eradication of Hepatitis C in HIV coinfection presented by Andri Rauch (Associate professor of infectious diseases, University Hospital Bern, Switzerland). Andri reminded us of the WHO goals of Hepatitis C management. He discussed the higher the HCV prevalence, the more treatment is needed to achieve elimination. Scaling up harm reduction reduces the required treatment rates. He demonstrated a colourful “spaghetti junction” of graphical information showing clusters of behaviours and phylogenetic analysis of international transmission networks to show areas where trends of information can be used to improve counselling and behavioural interventions and where targets for disruption of transmission needs to occur to aim for elimination. Focusing on Europe he showed data which demonstrated the hurdles to HCV elimination in Europe which are largely around access to therapy, affordability and reimbursement restrictions. The proportion of re-infections increases with treatment upscale but overall incidence and prevalence decrease if risk behaviour stabilises. Fear of re-infections is NOT an argument against treatment upscale. In conclusion he stated the central elements of HCV elimination include 1) Optimized screening and diagnosis strategies, 2) Optimized prevention and risk counselling, 3) Increased treatment uptake and access to IFN-free DAA for all at affordable prices, 4) Coordinated national and international HCV strategies and leadership.