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October 23, 1987


JAMA. 1987;258(16):2303-2304. doi:10.1001/jama.1987.03400160157052

The revolution that has transformed medical practice since World War II from a personalized relationship between patient and physician into a health industry has been accompanied by a revolution in the relationship between the worlds of medicine and the media. Back in what many call "the good old days," the two worlds largely ignored each other. Medical information was regarded as the province of physicians, to be parceled out to patients as they felt was useful and appropriate. The media usually regarded physicians with distant respect, and they, in turn, often treated the media with polite disdain. Times have changed! Physicians' lives are, today, unavoidably affected by the media. Moreover, each courts the other in a manner that both might acknowledge as self-serving.

At the very least, physicians must live with the portrayal of themselves in entertainment formats; such portraits may raise expectations to unrealistic heights of perfection or plunge