Sunday, August 31, 2008

CME conference---general reflections

I’ve just completed day one of this conference. Since 1981 this meeting has been part of an annual pilgrimage for self renewal, rejuvenation and learning in a relaxed atmosphere. I leave here each year looking forward to the next For the last few years, though, I’ve had an uneasy feeling about how long the conference can go on. It could not continue without some degree of industry support. In the last few years industry support for CME has been under siege.

The inquisition against industry supported CME is knee-jerk and intellectually lazy because it does not seek to evaluate offerings on their own merits. Yet, the movement is gaining influence and popularity and threatens CME as we now know it.

The burden of proof that industry support invalidates continuing education offerings is on those who call for its elimination. Out of my own heightened awareness of these concerns I plan to critically evaluate individual supported CME offerings in which I participate. One of the chief and most vocal critics of industry supported CME is Daniel Carlat, author of the Carlat Psychiatry Blog. His singular focus in evaluating CME offerings is bias. I think this is too narrow a view. Bias is one of many attributes of CME which include scientific rigor, conformity to evidence, scientific plausibility and relevance to ones specialty. Moreover, all speakers and authors are biased. That may be especially true in this conference because the speakers are experts. They are bound to have their own biases resulting from years of experience. As far as commercial bias goes, I haven’t observed it at this conference. I’ll be commenting on the overall quality of this year’s individual presentations with respect to commercial bias, balance and scientific rigor in the next few days.

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