Dr Matthew ‘Tepi’ Mclaughlin talks physical activity and Prevention 2022

Headshot of Dr Matthew 'Tepi' Mclaughlin. Caption bottom right corner of headshot says 'Dr Matthew 'Tepi' Mclaughlin'. Background of PHAA logos.

Dr. Matthew ‘Tepi’ Mclaughlin and Mary Brushe

In 2022 the PHAA Child and Youth Health Special Interest Group awarded several scholarships for students and early career researchers to attend a PHAA conference of their choosing.

The aim of this newly established scholarship was to provide opportunities to public health professionals or researchers in the child and youth health space to promote their work with the hope of contributing to policy relevant outcomes.

The PHAA Preventive Health Conference was held from 11-13 May 2022 and was attended by scholarship recipient Dr Matthew ‘Tepi’ Mclaughlin. Tepi’s research focuses on scaling up school-based programs aimed at improving students’ physical activity. He presented the findings from a pilot RCT for the ‘Physical Activity 4 Everyone‘ program.

Below are Tepi’s reflections and learnings from the conference.


Dr Matthew ‘Tepi’ Mclaughlin (Twitter: @HealthTepi)

Key take-home

My biggest learning was to keep my eyes peeled on other health areas. Day-to-day, my focus is on physical activity. But bringing physical activity into a broader public health conference is great – as we have so much to learn from each other as professionals, advocates, and researchers.

Being honest

It was enlightening and inspiring to hear about other health behaviours, such as vaping. I quickly discovered that I’ve probably had my head down too much in the physical activity world. For example, while sat in a presentation on day one, I realised that I knew little about vaping prevalence, its health consequences, or the public health threat it poses.

Advocacy

This conference was a collision between research evidence, practice, communication, shaping public opinion, political will, and policy change. It was fascinating to hear how research is used to inform advocacy for public health. Of particular fascination for me was a discussion-style presentation with Telethon Kids Institute’s Professor Jonathan Carapetis and Author of “Puff Piece” John Safran. I’d strongly encourage future conferences to host similar discussion style presentations, to break up what can often be days of heavy scientific content.

Keeping positive

I left Brisbane Convention Centre feeling motivated by the excellent array of talent at Prevention 2022. I was quickly brought back to the reality of our physical activity challenge in Australia when I had a 1.1km walk back to my hotel. I would expect this to take about 10 minutes. However, I had to cross the fast and wide Brisbane city streets, taking a whopping 17 beg-button crossings to get to my hotel. It took me 25 minutes to walk 1.1km. The walk was noisy, fumy, and the pavements were narrow. It is this reality that inspires my work to boost physical activity, as we have the opportunity to provide an excellent environment for walking and riding. We can and should be doing more to boost physical activity, by making walking and riding the safe, easy, and attractive choice for short journeys.

Stayed tuned on Intouch for more from the Child and Youth Health SIG scholarship recipients. 

Dr Matthew ‘Tepi’ Mclaughlin is a Senior Research Officer at the Telethon Kids Institute. Follow Tepi on Twitter at @HealthTepi.

Mary Brushe is the PHAA Child and Youth Health SIG Awards and Scholarships Coordinator. Follow Mary on Twitter at @marybrushe.

 

Image: Courtesy of Matthew ‘Tepi’ Mclaughlin.

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