Telling a New Story

From the annual meeting of the Gerontological Society of America

While there is a large body of literature on aggression by demented nursing home residents directed toward staff, the issue of resident-to-resident aggression and abuse has received little attention by researchers until very recently.  “The most prevalent form of elder mistreatment in long-term care has been virtually unexplored and unstudied,” Dr. Mark Lachs, of Cornell University, commented in a symposium at this meeting devoted to the topic. 

I am a medical reporter who loves telling new stories; words like “unexplored” and “unstudied” are music to my ears.  At the symposium, speakers discussed various approaches for studying the problem.  One researcher is using police reports, another is videotaping, while a third is analyzing best practices that nurses and other personnel have adopted in the absence of guidelines.  Symposium participants seemed really excited to be delving into an area that hasn’t been looked at until recently, because it offers so many possibilities for exploration and contribution…not to mention publication. 

Same goes for me. Since most of my readers don’t know that there is research in this area, I can tell the story straight without having to worry about finding a new angle.  Plus, it’s a nice change from the usual “drug X for disease Y” format.   

I had a similar “pioneering” feeling back in October, when I covered a 2-day workshop of the Society for Investigative Dermatology on skin disease co-morbidities.  There, researchers met to develop a research agenda for that newly-identified field, including issues such as dermatotoxicity resulting from the use of cancer drugs, the association between psoriasis and cardiovascular disease, and the psychiatric and psychosocial aspects of dermatologic disease. 

Participants at that workshop-including many young post-doctoral fellows-seemed totally jazzed with the task at hand, excitedly discussing potential collaborations with colleagues during breaks.  At the same time, I was psyched because I knew I had a good page 1 story for Skin & Allergy News.  It’s always invigorating to delve into something new…and, I believe, to tell the story.
—Miriam E. Tucker

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Filed under Dermatology, Geriatric Medicine, Internal Medicine

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