March 1999 AAOS Report

Board approves focusing research efforts on burden of disease issue

At its Feb. 2 meeting, the Academy's Board of Directors decided to focus its research resources to develop comprehensive data on burden of musculoskeletal disease. A white paper, developed by the Academy's department of research and scientific affairs, points out that "because musculoskeletal diseases, generally do not result in mortality, they are often absent when policy makers consider the primary threats to the nation's health status. Burden of disease data, which indicate those diseases that present a more debilitating and/or prevalent existence in today's society, can be used as an important factor in allocating funds." The importance of measuring burden of disease surfaced in a recent meeting of executives of the Academy and the Orthopaedic Research Society (ORS); Harold Varmus, MD, director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH); and Steven Katz, MD, director of the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS). The Academy and ORS were responding to the low ranking in funding of NIAMS, relative to other NIH institutes. Dr. Varmus was impressed by published data on the cost effectiveness of joint replacement and indicated this type of hard data was important to him.

In other action, the board accepted a report of the Task Force on Osteoporosis Education, and said the task force should consider focusing attention on prevention of osteoporosis in young people and it should coordinate its activities with the Task Force on Musculoskeletal Injuries Prevention and Health, which is reviewing the public education activities of the Academy. Last month, the Committee on Public Education designated osteoporosis in young people as its 1999 prevention program.

In a report of the Council on Education, Richard A. Gelberman, MD, chairman, said the Committee on Educational Programming was exploring the desirability of expanding the Academy's courses on business management education. The council believes the changing nature of orthopaedic practice necessitates new types of knowledge and the Academy can be a important source for the members. The council plans to present a variety of programs at the 2000 Annual Meeting in Orlando, Fla. Dr. Gelberman also disclosed that the council authorized the preparation of a business plan for the development of a knee arthroscopy simulator that uses virtual reality technology.

Augustus A. White III, MD, chairman of the Diversity Committee, reviewed the scope of its activities and the need for increasing the number of women and minorities in orthopaedics. He reported that in addition to mentoring and other programs, the committee was planning a program to reach out to high school students to increase the interest in orthopaedics, address the barriers to include more diversity in orthopaedics and develop a comprehensive education and communication program on cultural competence education.

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