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September 26, 1977

Are Medical Journals Obsolete?

JAMA. 1977;238(13):1402-1403. doi:10.1001/jama.1977.03280140080032

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The world of multimedia engulfs us. The medical profession has been particularly receptive to innovations in communications, including audiotapes and videotapes. Physicians eagerly embrace newer educational techniques such as the use of the computer as an integral element of workshops and lecture programs. The teacher and the practitioner are beguiled daily by advertisements extolling the virtues of multimedia packages with self-assessment features. These packages range from elaborate motion pictures and filmstrip programs to relatively unsophisticated devices such as hand-held viewers and workbooks with exotic self-quiz techniques.

Many of these innovations are positive contributions to the physician's learning process. However, in the current national explosion of education programs, technique rather than content threatens to assume a primary role. Participants in national symposia have suggested that audiotapes and videotapes have made the position of the medical periodical untenable. Were we to believe some enthusiasts, the traditional role of medical periodicals has been