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October 23, 1987

Public Information...

JAMA. 1987;258(16):2169-2171. doi:10.1001/jama.1987.03400160015003

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PUBLIC INTEREST in medical science and its clinical applications seems to increase yearly, as—apparently— does discussion of the physician's role in informing the laity as a group. Nearly a century ago, The Journal opined editorially: "The physician, whatever he may say or not say [to the public through the news media] in attendance upon a public officer of high rank, is almost certain to be misunderstood. The wiser course then is to keep silence..." (JAMA 1893;21:133). That, of course, is no longer possible, as the recalling of the 1981 wounding of President Reagan and other reports in this MEDICAL NEWS & PERSPECTIVES section make clear. Thus, what physicians are doing today to communicate effectively with the public at large is a fascinating story in itself—a story that this section of Contempo 1987 undertakes, at least in Dart, to tell. —by