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SIR, -I am sure many find international specialistmeetings' beneficial, even inspirational, but in thebrave new world of health economics I wonderwhat the cost-benefit analysts make of such eventsand what is the optimal frequency of attendinginternational meetings.Over £500 may be spent attending a conferenceof a few days' duration, while a full year's subscriptionto most learned journals costs about 10% ofthis. Let us assume that an international specialistmeeting covers the material of a full year's subscriptionto four specialist journals-a ratheroptimistic estimate by common experience. Thenwe may utilise the same resource in achieving atleast twice the educational benefit by spending themoney on specialist journals. During most of theyear there would seem to be at least one specialistmeeting a month that could legitimately beattended, but of course funds rarely permit this. Iam pleased that some assessment has been made ofthe efficacy of attending scientific conferences, butI fear that the financiers may better spend theirmoney in educating us in other ways.Perhaps with the new technology of communicationsand video conferencing we may be able tocontribute papers and attend meetings by proxy,thus saving the inconvenient and expensive travelarrangements, not to mention the exorbitantaccommodation fees that are levied.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 6 Apr 1991

Bibliographical note

letter to the editor
Reference text: Alexander-Williams J, Fielding LP, Goldberg S, Grace RH.
Recipe for success in international specialist meetings. BMJ
1991;302:585-7. (9 March.)


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