Interview with Merete Nordentoft
Merete Nordentoft is a professor of psychiatry in Copenhagen and an expert in epidemiology, suicidal behavior, psychopathology and a pioneer in early intervention in psychosis. She has been a principal investigator (PI) in many large randomized clinical trials, evaluating the effect of psychosocial intervention of which the Danish OPUS trial is the most well-known.
You have been invited as one of the plenary speakers at the congress.
Yes, I shall give a lecture on “Improving treatment of people with psychotic illnesses: lessons from randomized clinical trials” that will provide an overview of the results from the OPUS trials. I intend to widen the results and draw perspectives towards other interventions using randomized controlled trials, such as the study of Avatars. I shall also use the result to analyse strategies how to integrate severely mentally ill into the work force by offering them direct access to the labour market.
You have a long interest in Nordic collaboration and experience in Nordic organizations and committees.
Yes, I have had the pleasure to be President of the Nordic Joint Committee when I chaired the Danish Psychiatric Association and I have participated in all Nordic Psychiatric Congresses since 1985, been part of Nordic research courses, and Nordic research groups to mention only a few.
Plenary speaker of the Nordic Congress of Psychiatry 2021.
Do you see certain common characteristics of the Nordic countries?
Let us remind ourselves about the similarities between the Nordic countries – we have to a large extent the same values, living in old democracies with long-term political stability and prominent welfare traditions, respect for the rule of law and a general confidence in our institutions.
In the psychiatric field we have a long history of collaboration and we all have health systems that – though not identical – are comparable which facilitate cross-national research as well as clinical exchange of treatment results. We produce guidelines that are followed in our clinical practice. We are small countries with fine epidemiological traditions that gives us unique opportunity e.g. to follow certain populations, but the size of the countries also allow for a fairly rapid implementation of scientific results into clinical practice.
So, with that in mind, why would you recommend participating the Nordic Congress in Helsinki?
Joining a Nordic congress allows you to meet and interact with colleagues from the other Nordic countries and exchange ideas – scientifically as well as clinically. You may be confronted both with the similarities that exist between the countries but also with differences – e.g. recognize that clinical dilemmas and the solution hereof differ markedly between countries.
For junior colleagues and ph.d. students, Nordic interaction may lead to further collaboration following the congress and the establishment of research groups – we have seen numerous examples hereof over the years. You may say that such collaboration integrates the best parts of all the involved countries. I think that when you interact with other Nordic colleagues it frequently strikes you how similarly we think and perceive things.
The upcoming congress faces particular challenges being a virtual congress, but it is my hope that the organisers find creative ways to facilitate the interaction among the participants and find fora where to discuss not only the lectures given but also possibilities for future collaboration and research. □