Conference of the North-American Primary Care Research Group: This is Times Square

“What’s this?” “This is Time Square” an overheard conversation made me smile and think to myself “Yes, this is the centre. North-American Primary Care Research Group conference is the “Times Square” meeting of world’s research elite.

Victor Montori from the Mayo clinic opened the conference on Saturday, November 21stwith a plenary on minimally disruptive Medicine. He urged the audience to consider the work that each patient has to do to comply with treatment. Like a canary in a mine, which stops singing and gets restless when the air in the mine becomes poisonous, the patient can signal when the burden becomes unbearable.
Our presentation was in the first of five concurrent papers sessions on education. Our chair was Janice Bellfrom Australia. One presentation was cancelled and two were merged because they were presented by one investigator (Gretchen Dickson).  Educators talked about a test measuring critical thinking, about research education, expectations of programme directors, geography of supervision and addiction medicine (see Figure 1 below). Approximately 20 people attended, the rest chose another of the competitive list of concurrent forums, workshops and the popular “ask the experts” session.
Here is my prezi (Figure 1):
Joe Selby, the director of the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute, welcomed attendees on Sunday. The institute focuses on funding personalized medicine and outcomes that are meaningful for patients. It aims to speed up the infamous 17-year shelf-life of new research. The director mentioned a research question identified by a diabetic adolescent; the voice of the patient has been represented. Selby outlined what propose to not get funded (for example, effectiveness or methods proposals). The audience asked provoking questions. What’s a successful patient engagement? – (potential for exploitation can be reduced via advocacy groups). What is a patient centred outcome? There’s no validated measure of patient engagement (except the Engagement Activity Inventory enact tool).
SHORTER IS BETTER – The Blah, blah, blah problem
Workshop on writing effective research reports was facilitated by the Annals of Family Medicinejournal’s editorial group (Phillips, W., Bayliss, E., Ferrer, R., Gotler, R., Acheson, L., Balasubraanian, B., Cohen, D., Frey, J., Gill, J., Marino, M., McLellan, L., Peterson, L., Williams, R., and Stange, G.) Editors urged authors to resist the urge to fill the word limit (for example, 2500 words in medical journals). Shorter papers increase readability – more people will read it. There are two useful measures for pruning:

  • Short and familiar words
  • Short sentences
The facilitators continued with examples of short prose. Watson and Crick’slegendary Nature paper from 1953 had 903 words. Hemingway’s challenge was to tell a story in 6 words only: For sale: baby shoes never worn. Simpler writing seems smarter – Oppenheimer’s study showed that the readers can see the smoke of inflated language in research articles. The authors should always ask themselves: Would this work as a shorter piece? Similar to articles, minestrones are good with lots of ingredients but at a certain point, new ingredients do not add anything else. Following a formal lecture, the group broke into smaller groups and edited long and complicated sentences from submitted manuscripts.

NAPCRG is a multidisciplinary organization for primary care researchers. Founded in 1972 and oriented to family medicine, NAPCRG welcomes members from all primary care generalist disciplines and related fields, including epidemiology, behavioral sciences, and health services research. Text taken from