Creative Thinking in Epidemiology Workshops, September 2011

Table of Contents

Creative Thinking in Epidemiology Workshops, September 2011
Closing comments, 19 September 2011
One thing we’re taking away to chew on or to put into practice
Appreciation and One thing to be developed further (+Δ)
Closing comments, 21 September 2011
Some things we’re taking way to chew on

Closing comments, 19 September 2011

One thing we’re taking away to chew on or to put into practice

• Role of a historical detective in epidemiological research group to locate surprising data sets that give us new possibilities for things to study
• Create a place to express concerns and have this treated respectfully
• Value of setting the structure and format for discussion with time limits
• Safe place for people to take risks, not be afraid that they’ll have their ideas jumped on.
• Need to find more groups like this to participate in – this has felt like food for the mind
• Time for brainstorming and unstructured thought and develop a network of colleagues who want to do that too
• Being creative within institutional and economic constraints
• Rather than operating off a to-do list, having some time off is just as useful
• Having seminar where faculty brainstorm new ideas
• Creating spaces for discussion is very productive
• Need to read more about epi. theory
• Thinking alone can be difficult; thinking together allows people to come up with new ideas
• Doing this once in a while is a good thing, opens up the possibilities and brings together people from various backgrounds
• Group discussion is more creative than thinking by oneself
• Need to learn much more epidemiology and applications
• Ways to identify boundaries or limitations, personal or external, that affect risk of being creative
• Freewritings shows dynamic between personal motivation and research topics. Keep in mind importance of motivation.
• Bring this sort of thing to workplace to foster creativity; this was stimulating
• Epidemiological methods can be used to create a big shift in the way we think about things, not incremental changes

Appreciation and One thing to be developed further (+Δ)

+ Sandy arranged the opportunity for me to learn from my co-workers, great ideas I didn’t know we had
Δ How not to lose sight of tools crammed into the workshop. More time needed.
+ Appreciated the opportunity and everyone here. Appreciated the comment that we do a lot of thoughtless stuff; that's right so let's try to do that less
+ Step away from my usual M.O. (focusing myopically on tasks at hand and not assess the big concepts).
Δ Use tarot cards for turn taking
+ Diverse backgrounds. Different involvements in epi.
Δ Interesting to record the whole session to capture everything because I’ve forgotten a lot already.
+ Everyone's discussion and broadening my mind
+ Someone cancelled so I could join.
+ To know that lots of people changed their major from something else to epidemiology.
+ Wish we had this opportunity while I was a student at UMass Boston. It was an eye-opener to learn what others think about epi.; there are lots of unknowns.
Δ A little more time
+ Being allowed to be part of the workshop
Δ More apple juice
+ Being given an opportunity to critically reflect on the field we’re involved in. (This is more and more uncommon.)
Δ A concrete case study to focus energies
+ Impressed at sharing and how articulate everyone was
Δ Use of tools on a task in creative epidemiology
+ Especially enjoyed 5-minute introductions
Δ More creative epidemiology. (E.g., NIH summer school spent a day on novel study designs)
+ Comfortable group for a newcomer to be in.
+ Diversity beyond academic epi.
Δ Wished we could hear the 5 minute background from everyone
Δ What the goal is and be working towards it with the tools
+ Opportunity to be here. Risks taken to express your true feelings
Δ Pick a passion of a junior member of the team and work on it together.
+ Getting a peek into world of epidemiologists.
+ Sense of community developing around these discussions—openness and willingness to participate
Δ Unanswered questions: What do we mean by creativity in epi.? Is it something we can learn or be taught?
+ Positive atmosphere.
Δ I would like goals and what we need to do differently to get solutions.
+ Everyone came, giving this gift to yourselves and everyone else.
Δ Lots to think about in preparation for repeating the workshop in Toronto.
Δ Participants try out the tools using links on the wiki.

Closing comments, 21 September 2011

Some things we’re taking way to chew on

• Convene a small group to explore visual thinking as a way to step away from our data and statistical emphases; its possibilities and limits
• Course on history of great epidemiological ideas.
• Very helpful to take time on creativity. Lots of excellent ideas. Worry about succumbing to more immediate, less important concerns. How to reinforce each other to do more in-depth, less-conventional work.
• Opportunity that I don’t usually get to meet and talk with such a group of people.
• What history can teach us.
• Greatest discoveries have come from observing and understanding observations. Creativity can’t be forced; it has to come in its own time and way. Slow down and leave it to emerge itself.
• I’ve noted numerous action points to follow up, such as, the idea of discussion paper precirculated that everyone comments on before the author comes back. Will try with new PhD students and also for strategy development.
• Talking about mid-career changes, I’m now getting frustrated with genetics, excessive reductionism, the technological imperative, focusing on one mechanism and losing sight of bigger picture.
• Is thinking about new directions in research a lever for thinking about health and system changes as well.
• Relax, step back, smell the roses, take a look at the bigger picture (which is what we did today). Drive to use advanced technologies, but not clear what role they played in the study.
• Historical angle is important.
• I’ve been disciplined by clinical trials mindset—the bigger the machine to measure the outcome, the better. To reexamine the directions that life has taken us, I need discussion from friends rather than be exposed first to enemies.
• Interesting that people are grappling with this. Creativity is not so lonely; there are lots of people here.
• The teacher should open to door. Important to have more interaction between teacher and advisee, which might mean having fewer students.
• Encourage taking new unpredictable paths, ones that others you have worked with have not gone down.
• In revising sessions in medical curriculum (so that students are more creative and don’t simply memorize), use tools from today.
• In revising a lecture for next week, bring back Geoffrey Rose, again so students have to think about wider issues.
• In research do a map at all the different issues. Look at prezi for visual thinking, e.g., getting nurses to contribute to the map, not simply collect data for us.
• “Dead epidemiologists” seminar. Start by reading and critiquing Doll's obituary.
• From a long list of action items: discussion paper for strategy development; redevelop course on hypothesis development; randomized trial on meditation and laughter.
• Use the email list to follow up, including appreciation and one thing to be developed further (+Δ)
• Need an assistant to help facilitator to follow up on all the threads.