Background A major political meeting is held in Almedalen, Sweden during one week every summer. The meeting is Sweden's largest political meeting point and everyone who wants to participate in the public debate is welcome. More than 1000 different organizers contribute to diversity and a great variety of topics. The foundations are democracy and a wish to increase the interest in and the knowledge of societal matters. The openness and accessibility of the Almedalen-week is unique. All events are open to all and free of charge.
The week is created by political parties, public authorities, organizations and companies who arrange events. The organizers rent different premises and invite guests to the activities. In 2014 3300 different events were carried out. The up-coming Swedish election received a lot of attention. In addition to that, the healthcare questions took a large spot on the agenda. The most important questions were patient empowerment, equal health care, the leading causes of death and disability as well as the development of health care
Objectives A key function of the Swedish Rheumatism Association is to influence politicians, decision makers, researchers and other key persons within our sphere on questions that concerns our members. We use our knowledge of how it is to live with a musculoskeletal disease when we drive political and opinion forming campaigns in our interests.
Methods Over time the Swedish Rheumatism Association has often been invited to participate in various events during the week but have also arranged their own. During 2014 the Swedish Rheumatism Association arranged three different events in collaboration with other organizations.
Results Together with the Swedish Association of Physiotherapists and The Swedish College of General Practice the seminar Physiotherapy as the first line? Does it provide better care and resource utilization in primary care? was arranged. The message was the importance of offering patients with musculoskeletal disorders early assessment by a physiotherapist.
The seminar National guidelines - effective management or hollow phrases? was organized in association with a pharmaceutical company. The main question was whether the current national guidelines really are the best foundation to guide future health care. For chronic diseases, the government aims to adapt the guidelines for both primary care givers and patients, but the responsibility for compliance is not discussed in the directives. Is there reason to question the usefulness of national guidelines as an effective instrument of control?
The Swedish Rheumatism Association also organized a seminar with the Swedish Society for Rheumatology; National guidelines - positive impact for the patient? Issues discussed on the national guidelines for musculoskeletal diseases were: What have the introduction of the guidelines led to? Do we have the right indicators? Who performs the work? How long should it be allowed to implement?
The president of the Swedish Rheumatism Association, Anne Carlsson was one of the most contracted healthcare debaters and participated in about 25 events during the week.
Members and other interested parties could follow what was happening through articles on the Swedish Rheumatism Association's website and many posts on Twitter, Facebook and Anne's photo blog. For example, Facebook reached over 1,000 people directly.
Disclosure of Interest None declared