SOPHE pivots to highly successful virtual conference during COVID-19 pandemic

Registrants enjoy engaging presentations on a dynamic, cutting-edge platform

Washington, D.C. – March 24, 2020 – The Society for Public Health Education (SOPHE) held its first-ever virtual scientific conference in place of its in-person SOPHE 2020 Annual Conference. The annual conference, scheduled to convene in Atlanta, March 17-20, shifted to a virtual format in less than seven days during the world’s coronavirus outbreak.

“During this unprecedented time of COVID-19, we knew the health and safety of attendees, speakers, exhibitors and staff was the foremost priority,” said SOPHE 2019-2020 President, Jean Breny, PhD, MPH. “Yet, we wanted to redouble efforts to provide critical health education research, practice and pedagogy to SOPHE members and other health professionals who were abiding by public health guidance to stay at home or telework.”

In his virtual SOPHE 2020 keynote address, former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. David Satcher underscored the importance of mental health during such times of adversity. He called on health education professionals to address mental health as an equity issue, break down stigma, and demonstrate “care, compassion, courage, and a commitment to perseverance.”

Dr. Breny’s Presidential Address challenged health educators to advance health equity by taking an anti-racism approach to health promotion. She identified five avenues to break down racism as a social determinant of health, including using tools such as photovoice and community-based participatory research, and addressing implicit bias. Dr. Breny also announced the establishment of a new annual SOPHE award, the David Satcher Lecture for Health Equity and Social Justice, to continually advance the scholarship, practice and advocacy in this arena.

Other highlights during the first three days of Virtual SOPHE 2020 were plenary sessions on arts and public health, climate change, health research, and elevating the health of children and families as a societal priority.

“We are extremely pleased that so many of our more than 800 pre-registrants tuned in for their virtual SOPHE conference experience,” said Elaine Auld, SOPHE CEO. “Many comments on social media reflected gratitude and excitement for the opportunity to listen, learn and engage with their health education colleagues in a dynamic, engaging and cutting-edge platform.”

In adjusting the original, 2 ½-day conference schedule to the online format, SOPHE will stream additional live sessions through April 7, 2020. Pre-registered participants are automatically upgraded to the virtual meeting, while other health professionals are welcome to register to view the upcoming live sessions and all recordings for the next year until March 2021. More than 59- advanced and entry-level continuing education contact hours (CECHs) and Certified in Public Health (CPH) Renewal Credits are available for all sessions – live and recordings.

Virtual SOPHE 2020 also features some 120 scientific posters, a Virtual Exhibit Hall with more than 50 exhibitor and sponsors, multiple resources and handouts, and several SOPHE 70th anniversary videos.

For 70 years, SOPHE has supported and represented professionals in the health education and health promotion fields to create a healthier world. SOPHE provides its members, and all people working to improve the world’s health, with the most credible and up-to-date information on public health – what’s needed, what’s new and what works.

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