Blog 5B. Emotional Situations

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This continues the examples presented in Blog 5A.

In the late 1990s senior staff of the New York State’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) started a Medical Advisory Board for the Department’s Commissioner. The Board’s biggest job was to help with media over-reaction to medical issues about driving that worried the state legislature.

An eye doctor chaired the Board. He started with issues about eye-sight. He asked me to chair a committee about black outs and seizures.

The Chair passed scientific medical studies to his committee about new ways to test vision for driving. The new ways were better than those New York State was using. Three members of the vision committee didn’t think the studies proved their point.

I offered help. None of the three had ever done scientific research. They were on the Board because they had other knowledge, and skills the Board needed.

The three thought the authors of the scientific studies weren’t sure of the conclusions. Why not? In each study, the discussion section pointed out weaknesses in methods and interpretation.

The three needed coaching about scientific writing but without making them wrong. It’s assumed no scientific paper is complete and no single project can look at all possibilities. A paper has to point out these limitations and suggest other interpretations or it won’t get published.

Once the three understood this, they read the cautious sentences in the papers’ discussion as mere cautions. The eye doctor presented a unanimous recommendation to the DMV’s Commissioner. Within six months, the new vision tests in all New York DMV offices. I believe they are still used today.

Further examples will come in Blog 5C.

 

Illustrations in my blogs are either my own drawings or courtesy of pixabay.com

 

Contact me at 650-762-6755 or pieterk@post.harvard.edu for more information or to start a conversation. 

Pieter Kark, MD, San Mateo, CA 94401-2238

 

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