December 2006

Volume 23, Issue 4

Editorial - Presentations and conferences: can we measure their value?

Authors: C.M. Jones J.G. Whittle D.W. Sarll


BASCD conferences, held twice yearly, use interpersonal and mass communication, and aim to help us to become better informed and inspired to improve our management, research and clinical skills. These are memorable and enjoyable, though costly events in our calendars. In recent years the cost to members for each day’s attendance has been approximately £100; this excludes accommodation. Assuming the overall costs for a two-day conference are £300, this will take up the annual training budget for many members. Although we cannot put a price on renewing acquaintances and making new friends, can we measure the outcomes of mass communication? In this respect, “When you can measure what you are speaking about and express it in numbers, you know something about it, but when you cannot measure it, cannot express it in numbers your knowledge is of a meagre and unsatisfactory kind.” (Kelvin, 1891). The need to measure outcome, compare it with the aim and then re-allocate resources appropriately becomes more and more urgent as fiscal pressures rise. How to put guidelines into practice prompted the National Institute for Clinical Excellence in November 2005 to commission BMJ Learning (Walsh, 2006) to produce a series of learning modules based on its guidance on a number of topics. An audit tool has therefore been added to BMJ Learning, enabling a participant to assess ‘how you cared for patients before doing the module and how you cared for them afterwards, and the main changes that completing the module has made to your practice’. A chief medical officer has said, “Perhaps more could be achieved in health by improving communication than almost any other factor. This includes communication between the professional and the patient, between professionals and with the public.” (Calman, 1996). Our purpose is to ask if, at scientific conferences like BASCD’s, audit tools are needed so that communication could, if necessary be improved. Presently we know little about the effectiveness of conferences in changing for the better the knowledge, opinion, attitude or behaviour of the attendees. a fundamental biological process: it is the basis of all learning, of ‘profiting from experience,’ of ‘learning from mistakes’”. Audit of conferences’ successes is thus presently ‘of a meagre and unsatisfactory kind’.


Other articles in this issue

Article Pages Access
Editorial - Presentations and conferences: can we measure their value? 194-196 Download
Caries prevalence in 12-year-old children from Germany. Results of the 2004 national survey 197-202 Download
The relationship between prevalence and incidence of dental caries. Some observational consequences. 203-208 Download
Characteristics attributed to individuals with dental fluorosis 209-216 Download
DIAGNOdent - an adjunctive diagnostic method for caries diagnosis in epidemiology 217-221 Download
Prevalence and factors associated with traumatic dental injuries (TDI) to anterior teeth of 11-13 year old Thai children 222-227 Download
Performance indicators used to assess the quality of primary dental care 228-235 Download
A survey of school dental screening practise in community dental services of England and Wales in 2003 236-238 Download
The prevalence and pattern of hypodontia of the permanent teeth and crown size and shape deformity affecting upper lateral incisors in a sample of Jordanian dental patients. 239-243 Download
Relationship between dental caries experience (DMFS) and dental fluorosis in 12-year-old Puerto Ricans. 244-250 Download
Prevalence of dental caries in obese and normal-weight Brazilian adolescents attending state and private schools. 251-253 Download
Abstracts - Papers presented at the BASCD Spring Presidential meeting in Cambridge, UK, March 2006 254-254 Download


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