Friday, March 30, 2012

The utility of medical meetings

There's a provocative commentary in this week's JAMA by John Ioannidis on medical conferences. His argument is that "medical congresses may serve a specific system of questionable values that may be harmful to medicine and health care." Some of the issues he notes include:
  • The huge carbon footprint generated by attendees' travel
  • The dissemination of misinformation due to abstracts that are not well reviewed, sometimes inaccurate, and many of which are never ultimately published as full-length articles
  • Giving opinion leaders disproportionate influence
  • Over-the-top exhibit halls
  • Industry sponsored satellite meetings
He concludes by calling for research on the best ways to disseminate information and educate physicians. I have to admit that I usually don't learn a great deal at meetings, but it sure is fun to catch up with old friends! 

Photo: The Serra Group

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