Career Development : Calendar

Reliable Reporting: Making Sense of Medical Evidence

10/22/04 - 10/23/04     Hanover, NH

The first regional conference sponsored by the Association of Health Care Journalists and the Center for Excellence in Health Care Journalism.

Supported with a grant from the VA Outcomes Group, White River Jct., Vt. and The Center for the Evaluative Clinical Sciences, Dartmouth Medical School, Hanover, N.H.

Hotel: Fireside Inn & Suites


Friday, Oct. 22

Opening Reception -- 8 p.m.-11 p.m.
Ron Winslow, veteran health care reporter at the Wall Street Journal, will discuss story ideas and how to make your stories better.

Saturday, Oct. 23

8 a.m. -- Board buses from Fireside Inn and Suites to the Center for the Evaluative Clinical Sciences at Dartmouth Medical School

8:30 a.m. -- Continental Breakfast

9 a.m. -- Welcome

9:15 a.m.-noon -- Developing a taste for medical statistics and serving them up right to readers
Presenters: Drs. Lisa Schwartz and Steven Woloshin
Making medical statistics meaningful to the public can be a challenge. Many people, including journalists, have trouble with numbers. It's easy to make statistics needlessly hard and forget their context.
This session will:

  • Review common medical statistics used to describe the chance of disease
    and the benefit of interventions like medication, screening, surgery and a change in lifestyle.
  • Provide examples of how these statistics are reported in ways that are
    misleading or likely to be misunderstood
  • Suggest simple ways to communicate medical statistics effectively.

Noon-1 p.m. -- Box lunch

1 p.m.-2:15 p.m.-- Reporting Clinical Research: Credibility, Trust, and the Mark of Zorro
Presenter: Dr. Drummond Rennie
Editors of medical journals and mainstream reporters have the same responsibilities: convey the results of clinical research faithfully, critically and with a minimum of bias. But just as their audiences differ, editors and reporters will inevitably differ in their training, the speed with which they work, the space or time they have to complete their jobs, the pressures and their relationship to their bosses. Using real instances of problems, this session will focus on the need to maintain and restore credibility. Dr. Rennie will discuss the meaning of trust -- with illustrations from the Mark of Zorro -- and show how easily trust and credibility break down. Dr. Rennie will identify what journalists should keep in mind when judging the integrity, as well as the science, of a manuscript or a published article.

2:30 p.m.-5:00 p.m. -- There's No Place Like Home: Evaluating Local Health Care
Presenter: Dr. Elliott Fisher
Recent research on the causes of the nearly two-fold differences in spending across the U.S. for people over age 65 threatens our assumptions. Until now, journalists and policy makers have largely assumed such increases in spending are an unavoidable consequence of an aging population and advancing technology.
This session will:

  • Review recent research on geographic variations in spending --- and its implications for health and health care; and
  • Help participants learn how to obtain national and local data on local health system performance from the Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care website.
    Participants are encouraged to bring laptops for the "hands on" session, but laptops are not required; those without laptops will learn how to access the data through handouts and demonstration.

5:30 p.m. -- Farewell

5:45 p.m. -- Buses back to hotel

Speakers include:

  • Dr. Lisa Schwartz and Dr. Steven Woloshin -- general internists and senior research associates in the VA Outcomes Group, White River Junction, VT and associate professors of medicine and community and family medicine at Dartmouth Medical School. Their work focuses on improving the communication of medical information to patients, physicians, journalists, and policymakers and has appeared in leading medical journals.
  • Dr. Drummond Rennie, Deputy Editor (West), Journal of the American Medical Association and Professor of Medicine, University of California San Francisco. Past President of the Council of Science Editors and the World Association of Medical Editors, he has dedicated himself to researching the influence of money on the conduct and reporting of clinical research.
  • Dr. Elliott S. Fisher, professor of medicine and community and family medicine at Dartmouth Medical School and the Center for the Evaluative Clinical Sciences. He is also co-director of the VA Outcomes Group. He helps produce the Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care, which examines geographic variations in medical practice and the consequences on health.
  • Ron Winslow, deputy editor, health and science, and a senior medical and health care writer for the Wall Street Journal. In the past 15 years, he has written more than 1,000 articles describing new medical and health care research and chronicling the economic forces transforming the nation's health care system. In 2003, Mr. Winslow received the American Heart Association's Howard L. Lewis Award for his coverage of cardiovascular disease.