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The following program is produced by the University of Michigan broadcasting service under a grant he made from the National Educational Television and Radio Center in cooperation with the National Association of educational broadcasters the public and communication in medical research. A program from the series human behavior social and medical research produced by the University of Michigan Broadcasting Service. The people you will hear comments from today are Dr. John Givens Jr. Dr. Jerome to Dr. Randolph Spragg Dr. F. D.W. Lukens Dr. Saul Roy Rosenthal Dr. Denton Cooley Dr. wil Seeley Dr. Barry Levinson and from the National Institutes of Health Dr. Leonard J. And Dr. Robert H feeling Also you will hear a comment from Dr. John King Ross Wright from Baylor University. Four Questions will be taken up on this program. Does the public get enough medical information about research. Is the public sophisticated enough to assimilate research findings. Is the public apathetic
about medical research and what role should communications play in bringing more information to the public. The first question does the public get enough information concerning medical research. The first man to speak is Dr. F. D.W. Lukens of the University of Pennsylvania. The correct answer to your question is no because one who is interested in a particular field is always conscious of the amount of public ignorance. I think if one looks at the country as a whole. And when one thinks of the many medical interests that are trying to educate the public in their respective areas then I believe the American public is unusually well educated. About oh special disease problems. Certainly they are far better educated than the Europeans where 10 years ago I cannot speak for the state of affairs abroad at the moment.
And this is because it has been a habit not only for special groups to put out their educational material but for an American for the American press and for American lay journals to report progress in the treatment and diagnosis of disease to the American public. We have been a rather unusual country in that respect. And I think bringing that back to diabetes I believe that we have done our part and fairly well. That doesn't mean we won't try to do more. Dr. John givens of Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia. Yes I do. I think it's quite harmful of course for. Premature claims to be made because it is heartbreaking to a lot of people. This is as it has occurred for 100 years or more with regard
to cancer. You see that lives in their lives. Somebody will make a premature announcement or there will be a premature announcement in the newspapers or magazines or something and somebody has found a cure for cancer. And this of course is not so. There is lots of ways of controlling cancer and I think cutting it out or treating it with certain types with radiation cancer isn't a single disease it's like cancer is a different cancer the skin is different from cancer of the lungs. But and that I think is harmful. I think the best way for the public to get information about medical progress is from the annual national meetings of large bodies were the medical profession I think finally come to the point of view that I must
process adequate information about what's going on and when it comes from a national body of that so that it's not premature and it's given carefully and with if somebody's got the cure for cancer they don't need the press to announce it. I mean it'll be recognized immediately by everybody. And from the University of Minnesota Dr. Jerome t simpleton the extent of the dissemination of information on health and health research seems adequate overall. But there is perhaps too little effort to transmit the information you can use a better term. The story of radio and television have been applied to the transmission of information with considerable earnestness to rafter that is intended to impress the public. The complexity and the grammar. I research
cooperation between Representative communication media and scientists. Undoubtedly read be helpful rheumy reporters that can write accurately as well as interesting reports from information provided by the scientist and reporters who are scrupulous label dried. The concern of scientists for the truth of statements for public consumption. Scientific writers I believe should have story verified by run experts in the Throughout of science making their report. Dr. Siva to move this to our next question is the public sophisticated enough to assimilate medical research find Russian but the public was supposed to do enough to assimilate medical information provided the information is driven or
that a known specialist can interpret. Like other specialists scientists who are thinking in their own terms but that is no reason why be important ideas cannot be communicated in other terms. I doubt that the layman is any less able to appreciate medical information than the average medical scientist was able to appreciate information on genetic or electronic research. Dr. Randall Sprague the Mayo Clinic in Rochester Minnesota commented the general public has of course a large body including all degrees of sophistication to a degree the general public. Is capable of assimilating medical information but I I feel that. Few of the public will us
assimilate. Highly technical information. And furthermore a large segment of the public will be misled if. The dramatic and glamorous side of medical progress is overemphasized because most of the public do not are not sophisticated enough to weigh the importance of medical advances and place them in their proper perspective in the overall field of medical research. In Chicago Dr. Saul Roy Rosenthal commented there would be a certain percentage of the population that would be deaf and sophisticated and to withhold information because you can't be all would be a mistake. No population in any era has ever been so sophisticated that they understand everything is going on. You have to let the pros drop and let
those who can catch them do so. Dr. Siva didn't begins with this comment regarding the next question is the American public apathetic about medical research. Certainly people are not apathetic when confronted with problems of health scientists as well as laymen have more than enough reminders in their own families and friends. The pressing problems of cancer mental disease cardiovascular disease congenital defects common cold and any number of other problems of health. And Dr. Spraggs answered a believe that there is a good deal of. Apathy in the public relative to general problems of health that do not have specific or current or pressing. Application to themselves what. Of course when the problem calls for
personal action because the individual individual is personally involved and out then the apathy tends to disappear at the Menninger foundation in Topeka Kansas. Dr. Harry Levinson felt this way. No no empathy quite the contrary. I found a great deal of interest especially in the last decade and the development of better mental health facilities all over the country and the development of support for research into mental illness. We've had a number of seminars here for top level executives and I've participated in a number of them and communities around the country. And I've been very pleasantly surprised to find tremendous interest in mental health concepts and how they relate to everyday job activities as well as how people can be helped. After all if you look around you you will find that every one of us has someone close to us who is emotionally upset or has had mental illness.
Everyone of us in business and industry has as his major problems that of dealing with other people and in the course of our business relationships we've become very much aware of the fact that people do have personal and psychological problems which are often very frustrating for us as well as for them. So most of us are looking for ways to understand the next person better and most of us are keenly interested in trying to understand ourselves better. We are for both those reasons and particularly interested and interested in mental health and particularly interested in broader applications. We've seen a tremendous increase in articles in magazines and newspapers in the last 10 years. We've seen here at the Menninger Foundation a tremendous increase in the number of letters we get. Any time an article appears anywhere about the Menninger foundation appropriations from Congress for the National Institute of
Mental Health they've increased. Very significantly in recent years state hospital appropriations have gone up considerably and the amount of money from private sources for research and mental health education has been increasing. We still have a long way to go to get public support and interest comparable to the size of the problem with which we're dealing. After all there are about 700000 people in mental hospitals and one out of every ten of us at one time in his life has a mental problem severe enough to require professional help. So we're still a long way behind in terms of how much money we're spending. But this doesn't minimize the growth of interest of the support which has come about in the last few years. Dr. Rosenthal commented about apathy. I don't believe the word is apathy. I think the people are very much aware of their health. But. I feel that it long as it doesn't
affect them personally or if it interferes with their conference or their pleasures. I want to ignore it. For example cigarette smoking. Is and is an example. I was astounded to learn that there is an increased consumption of cigarettes in the United States in the last year with all the publicity and all the evidence which looks very very convincing. To a man working in biology as myself. Yet there is an increase in cigarette smoking not a decrease. People just feel that it is not going to affect them. What is the role of communication media to transmit this information. Dr Sprague answered Well I'm particularly interested in the. Contents of the material of the mass communication media transmitted to the public relative to problems of health. In my
opinion the media would do well to. Minimize technical information which is really not understandable to much of the public. So minimize Phasis relatively small medical. Advances. And to do it right and Harley with the. Emphasis on the drama and glamour of medical progress. And instead place emphasis on. Medical information of practical usefulness to the public. Avoiding the employment of fear techniques. I would think great emphasis could be placed on preventive medicine. What types of understandable to
most of the public. And this is Dr John Kinross Wright of Baylor University. I think that. A majority. Of. Doctors and a majority of scientists working in all these various research fails. We'll be very happy to. To have the public understand just what they are doing. I think many of us feel that. When we talk to. Members of the communications field that they always want to glamorize and make our findings seem spectacular. And when they emerge before the public they're grossly distorted. And as scientists we tend to be rather particular that. The precise and exact facts get across. I think that we have to accept the fact that in order to present our findings to the public some degree of. Of.
Rapping out for. Presentation has to work and that some of the technical details have to be left out. But I think on the other hand that they are members of the communicate the. Members of the communications field should try to avoid the. Concentrating on the perhaps relatively insignificant finding. But the one that seems to have a. Most immediate appeal that they should. As well try to get across to the public some of them meet some of the backbone of research which is going on quite behind the scenes but which is relatively unglamorous. I recognise that communications media have other responsibilities then too. The scientists and the physicians but I think that it is in the national interest that much Maule out the. Uncolored facts should be allowed to emerge for presentation to the to the public
at Duke University in North Carolina. Dr. Will Seeley answered this way. I have. Found and have been much impressed with. Reporters whom I talk. Of first. Understanding of. The subject in the field in which they were. Specializing in sunny the sun tried it and. Material that I have given them and which is later been reported has always been. Reported in a factual way and in a way in a. Manner in good taste which I think sometimes is maybe difficult and. In medical writing particularly when it seems to patients. And I have been both favorably impressed with. The manner in which it's been done I have been involved I think I've seen instances where I thought it
perhaps was not. But my personal experience has been good. Also in Houston Texas at the Baylor Medical School Dr. Denton Cooley commented. Well it seems to me that most news media whether it be radio or newspapers whatever it is they can effort to have something as a news item. It's a medical news item same as any other news item as far as they're concerned. They want something which is dramatic something which is new and something which is startling frequently in this effort to keep up their reader interest or listening public's interest. They reach in and get things which are in an intermediate stage of development something which is not completely worked out. And by being premature and reporting such things they may actually do a great deal of harm to the research team
to the public and to the. The medical profession as a group these things most things in medicine should be fairly well worked out. First an experimental laboratory then will control clinical experiments before they are distributed for general use and for practicing physician use. Then I think that the public is entitled to know about them. After these things have been available to their physician for a period of time if it is a very clear breakthrough and something which we are have been striving for for many years then I think it is worthwhile that the recognition be given promptly and
that the public be apprised of the fact that these things have been accomplished in one of our institutions one by one of our research team. For example the solution to the problem of cancer were to be upon us within the next week. Be very nice to release that to the public as a news item. But it is rather catastrophic consequences if it's done. Too abruptly or prematurely one can only stop to think what an impact this would have on the United States at the present time if someone said we have a cancer and it can be cured. It would be a tremendous confusion and and so on which would I'm sure
harm some people particularly if the report was not absolutely accurate and so forth. If the means of cure was not available to everyone in the country at that time reported a stampede on the group who was working on the project. So there are a lot of things I think a lot of advances in medicine which must be regarded as a closed secret longer then. In other investigation and so it has so many social implications which I think must be considered. The director of the National Institute of Mental Health Dr. Robert Felix said I think that any of us working in this field are delighted to answer legitimate questions from representatives of any of the
media which would give information to the public and help them to understand these conditions more. Of course if we're asked a question about an experiment that's in progress and about which we don't yet have answers we're not going to give answers and everybody understands this sort of thing. There's an interesting thing about this business of communication however and it makes the problem of the those working in the communication media more challenging and also more complicated. It was said I think it was in Caesar's going to make wars as I remember when I was a boy in high school at that one point Caesar executed a feint which the enemy did not see through and he was able to annihilate them in the face they faint that was to the effect that he was going to fall back in retreat and he led them into a trap and he said man believes that which he wishes to believe. We hear what we want to
hear any of us. We see what we want to see. This means that you cannot use the same information in the same way by the printed word by the spoken word by visual means for everyone. What Mr Jones understands Mr Smith may either not understand or deny because it conflicts with other notions that he has but there are ways of bringing the information to Mr. Smith also. What I'm trying to say is that while A. Broadcast will reach many people if you go back and sample them you'll find that many of them heard what you said differently then you thought you said it and that others will have heard it as you thought you said it. And the same if you poll people who have read a pamphlet or an article in a magazine or read a book.
We have to diversify our media. I'd have to diversify I should say our dissemination of information through media always being accurate. I was being sure that we know the audience and get the information the truth to people in a form which they will understand and can assimilate into their own thinking. Also the National Institute of Mental Health. Dr. Leonard J dual felt I'd say that the we don't really void the communication medium. We look back at some of the projects that we've gotten involved in national some mental health we've had a big study that we developed and supported with the University of Illinois where we studied the communication of mental health concepts through the media whether it's magazines or newspapers or television. We're.
Very trying only aware of the kinds of things that can be potentially communicated by the media. I think what so often happens is that we're frustrated that one can use the media to have an education program and we may be able to sell mental health. But if the program following it is a family situation in which the husband or father is totally humiliated by the women in the family and by the children you may completely undo everything that's in the education program. And you begin to say well who has the affect who affects the kinds of programs that are put on. Sure the TV and radio programs. Allow a certain amount of public service type broadcasts but the bulk of their broadcasts of this other kind. And if you look at the bulk of the stuff that comes over the
media most of them haven't got a a sound mental health content. And I think this is the some of the findings that existed came out of this Illinois study is that the bulk of them really tear down anything we might do through the educational use of television radio. And newspapers. And this gets very frustrating and you realize that the powers behind this uses are the total population our population wants this kind of stuff on TV. Advertisers want us. There are many more people in this world than mental health people and they have their interests in selling things on radio and TV just as we would like to sell mental. Health and I think very often these other values seem to be much more important than the mental health values a way to conclude. Some of the comments here is that. Is to quote from the end of my paper
where I said that our task is vast and yet in this web of life we must remember that man is unique in that he expects of his world not only knowledge and understanding but solace and consolation. He needs both of our ancestral traditions and psychiatry that of the healer and of the human assist. He needs love to eases burdens he needs values. He needs a society that respects man more than his products. Money in machines. And then I quoted from Harold Taylor who said Let us remember that the measure of man like the measure of civilization lies in the way that each responds to the demand for imaginative thinking for the solutions of human problems and for the enrichment of human life. Perhaps we're entering an era where science can give answers to these human instinct problems and of the same time find more plausible explanations of human behavior for illness and its many
manifestations. I think what we are seeing is very exciting. I think the future may be a very exciting future where. Some of the things that we've been talking about are going to become part of our. Very life and we may have a chance to see a healthier we're on this has been a program dealing with the public and communication in medical research from the series. Human behavior social and medical research. Other segments of this series are social research aspects of mental health and the challenge of aging. We invite you to listen for other programs from the series and cordially ask that you write WUOM the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor or to the station to which you are listening. About information regarding the Siri I would like to give special thanks to Ed Burroughs for his assistance and to our engineers Neil McLean
and Ralph Johnston and Philip speaking thanking you for being with us at this time. This program has been produced by the University of Michigan broadcasting service under a grant in aid from the National Educational Television and Radio Center in cooperation with the National Association of educational broadcasters. This is the NEA E.B. Radio Network.
Medical research
The public and communication in medical research
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University of Michigan
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
This program focuses on the public and communication in medical research. Guests are Harry Levinson, Ph.D; Leonard J. Duhl, MD; Robert H. Felix, MD; Denton A. Cooley, MD; W.C. Sealy, MD; Sol Roy Rosenthal, MD, Ph.D; and others.
Series Description
This series explores current developments in research in the fields of the behavioral sciences and medicine.
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Guest: Rosenthal, Sol Roy, 1903-1995
Guest: Cooley, Denton A., 1920-
Guest: Duhl, Leonard J.
Guest: Felix, Robert H. (Robert Hanna), 1904-
Guest: Levinson, Harry
Guest: Sealy, Will C. (Will Camp)
Host: Grauer, Ben
Producer: Phillips, Glen
Producing Organization: University of Michigan
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 60-64-16 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:42
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Chicago: “Medical research; The public and communication in medical research,” 1960-07-07, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed May 29, 2024,
MLA: “Medical research; The public and communication in medical research.” 1960-07-07. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. May 29, 2024. <>.
APA: Medical research; The public and communication in medical research. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from