PISCE Final conference – Cultural Barriers Still A Big Obstacle to Self-Care


The final conference of the EU-funded PISCE tender project took place in Brussels on 17 March 2017. Around 100 delegates came together to present and discuss the study’s main results.

The keynote panel of the conference featured Professor Ilona Kickbusch from the Careum Foundation in Switzerland; Dr. Bert Vrijhoef from Maastricht University; and John Ryan of the European Commission DG SANTE. The three speakers elaborated on the possibilities for self-care and the development of new good practices towards the necessary transformation of health systems to empower citizens.

The remaining of the event left room for more interactive and concrete discussions.  Amongst these, EPF led a breakout session exploring “barriers and opportunities for citizens to practice self-care”, with support from Ian Banks (European Men’s Health Forum), Merce Rovira (European Institute for Women’s Health) and Cristina Cabrita (BEUC).

Our group identified a major cultural barrier: people have been conditioned for so very long to think within a medical paradigm where the professionals are in control, that they do not feel empowered to take their health in their own hands. Furthermore, the concept of self-care needs champions who can deliver a passionate and convincing argument that makes self-care an attractive proposition for people - rather than, as is currently the case, having self-care presented as something one “must” do in order to not be a burden on the healthcare system.

Certain barriers are very practical and easier to overcome, such as the legal requirement for many employees to attend a doctor in order to take a sick day when in fact it would be better and use less resources to just stay at home. 

The final report of the tender project will be available soon, and will certainly open avenues for discussions on how to implement self-care best practices in a changing healthcare system.

The programme and photos of the conference can be found on the website: http://www.selfcare.me/?page_id=20

More information about the PISCE tender project can be found here: http://www.selfcare.me/?page_id=5

Presentations from the conference will be made available on the website shortly.