Education

Most Med Schools Not Making the Grade

The American Medical Students' Association (AMSA) graded 150 medical schools on their conflict-of-interest policies and the influence that drug companies have with faculty and students. Only seven of the schools surveyed received an "A"; 60 got a failing grade, for not having sufficient policies or for not participating in the survey. AMSA president Dr. Brian Hurley called strong conflict-of-interest policies "incredibly important to protect the educational experience." Dr.

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Shifting Focus, Anti-Abortion Groups Oppose Contraception

On June 7, the anti-abortion groups American Life League (ALL) and Pharmacists for Life launched a new national campaign called "Protest the Pill Day 08: The Pill Kills Babies." Their goal is to convince American women to stop using oral contraceptives, which they believe kill people.

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Corporate-Sponsored "Slacktivism": Bigger and More Dangerous than the Urban Dictionary Realizes

Recently while browsing the Web I came across UrbanDictionary.com, which is sort of a wiki of contemporary slang. I found some of the newer words listed there amusing, like "hobosexual" (the opposite of metrosexual; someone who cares little about their looks), "consumerican," ("a particularly American brand of consumerism"), and "wikidemia" ("an academic work passed off as scholarly yet researched entirely on Wikipedia").

Healthcare Privacy Laws Quietly Assist Fundraising

stethoscope on walletWhen a patient checks into a hospital or goes to see a doctor, they are typically handed a booklet called "Notice of Privacy Practices" and are asked to sign a document acknowledging that they received the information. Patients assume that these "privacy practices" are in place to protect their personal information and that doctors and hospitals will keep their information in strictest confidence.

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The True Story of a Bogus Blog

Writing for AdWeek, Andrew Adam Newman reports that a deceptive PR campaign on behalf of the Coach bag company has become "the latest illustration of how a buzz-seeking stunt may backfire." Led by Paul Werth Associates, an Ohio PR firm, the "International AntiCounterfeiting Campaign" (IACC) sought to discourage people from buying knockoff handbags.

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New Kids' Book on Plastic Surgery Skirts Breasts

How does a mother explain to her children why she's having a breast augmentation, a tummy tuck or a nose job? Help is on the way -- a new book for kids about plastic surgery, My Beautiful Mommy. The story features a handsome, musclebound, superhero-type male doctor and a Mommy who says that as she got older, she couldn't fit into her clothes any more. Mom explains to her child that the doctor is going to help her fix all that. Mom comes home after surgery looking slightly bruised and bandaged, but with fuller, higher breasts.

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Lawsuits, Light Cigarettes and Fear-Based Marketing Strategies

Fear-driven marketing gets resultsThe Second Circuit of the United States Court of Appeals missed a great opportunity this week to hold the tobacco industry accountable for one of its worst marketing tactics -- positioning cigarette brands in response to smokers' medical concerns. The April 7, 2008, issue of the New York Times has an article about the dismissal of a huge, class-action lawsuit against the tobacco industry that was brought by smokers of "light" cigarettes who claimed they were misled about the relative safety of "light" cigarettes compared to regular, "full flavor" cigarettes. The suit, and its dismissal by the court, brought to mind a little-recognized tobacco industry marketing survival tactic that weighs heavily on the public's perception of exactly what "light" means.

The tobacco industry has long had a remarkable ability to rescue itself from damaging health claims by turning allegations against its products into marketing opportunities. Inside the industry, the fact that cigarettes cause widespread illness and death is referred to as the "smoking and health" issue, or "S&H issue" for short. Tobacco marketers consider "S&H issues" to be little more than "external marketing forces" that require re-positioning of products, through changes in advertising copy strategy, so that smokers will get an illusion of safety from the dangers they perceive.

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