ROCHESTER, Minn. -- After three days of debate and deliberation, attendees gathered over the weekend at the Mayo Clinic National Conference on Medicine and the Media reviewed preliminary observations for bringing more accurate, timely and responsible medical news to the public.
The conference was attended by medical and health journalists, scientific journal editors, physicians, industry representatives, government officials, public information officers, public relations professionals, patients and representatives of patient advocacy groups.
"Reports on medicine and health consistently rank among the top five topics covered by national and local media," says William Lanier, M.D., one of three co-chairs of the conference. "The goal of this conference was to bring together all facets of the medical news dissemination process in hopes of identifying ways to more effectively serve the public."
The conference, attended by more than 400 participants, started with a keynote address by Secretary Tommy Thompson, United States Department of Health and Human Services, on the nation's preparedness for bioterrorism. The remainder of the conference included case studies and panel discussion groups that stimulated significant debate.
Pat Mitchell, president and chief executive officer of Public Broadcasting Service, one of three conference co-chairs, led advisory panel members and attendees in review of the conference's preliminary observations at the conclusion of the conference. Preliminary key observations included:
- Medical news reports may be confusing because the underlying scientific issues are unresolved and open to multiple interpretations.
- Patient stories are intrinsically interesting and useful to illustrate medical news stories. Ill patients are vulnerable and have special needs for privacy. A patient may be getting into more than she or he anticipated when agreeing to be the subject of a medical news story.
Contact: Chris Gade
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