Today's News

Saturday, March 18, 2000

AAOS launches public education campaign

The Academy launched its new multimedia public service education campaign this month with the construction of a playground at Magnolia School in Orlando, Fla. on Tuesday, and the announcement of April as "Prevent Injuries America!" month.

These activities mark the beginning of a major Academy effort to increase the public's awareness about orthopaedic conditions and the impact on society.

It has taken more than one year of planning and research-public and physician surveys-to determine the Academy's messages to the public about orthopaedics. In May 1999, the Academy's Board of Directors received a report that detailed the public's perceptions about orthopaedic surgeons as well as AAOS members' views on how they are perceived by the public.

"There was an extraordinary dis-connect between the two perceptions," said Stuart Hirsch, MD, chairman of the Academy's newly-formed Council on Communications and AAOS treasurer. "The public perceived our specialty as high tech and not wanting to listen to their concerns." The surveys showed orthopaedic surgeons believed they were listening to their patients.

With the assistance of the Communications Council and its Public and Media Relations Committee, the Academy has implemented a new public service education program to increase the public's awareness of orthopaedics, and position orthopaedic surgeons as experts in injury prevention issues. The new program will seek to position orthopaedists in their communities as physicians who care.

"We want to increase the public's understanding of what we do and what conditions we are qualified to treat," Dr. Hirsch said. "Our efforts will convey the message that orthopaedists have the skills and training to provide comprehensive musculoskeletal care, and that our care can and does positively impact the quality of our patients' lives."

This month, the Academy will distribute a series of public service announcements (PSA) on injury prevention nationally to more than 12,000 news outlets-major television networks and cable systems, magazines, newspapers and radio stations nationwide. One PSA also will appear in airports nationwide.

Three PSAs focusing on playground safety, sports injuries and osteoporosis project a clear, sharp message that helps people understand the specialty and its concerns about preventing injuries. Most importantly, the PSAs provide helpful, concise safety tips and include the Academy's name along with a toll free public service telephone number and web site address as resources for more information.

"By taking advantage of the Academy's 501(c)(3) status, we are able to obtain millions of dollars worth of pro bono advertising space to distribute our public service messages," Dr. Hirsch said. "And, we are privileged to work with a nationally-recognized advertising firm, August, Lang and Husak, in Bethesda, Md. as our pro bono agency."

"Our program reflects the diversity of musculoskeletal conditions that we treat from children's injuries to our older patients' degenerative problems," said John M. Purvis, MD, chairman of the Academy's Public and Media Relations Committee.

The PSAs have a space where the orthopaedic surgeons can imprint their practice name, address, city and state directly on the ad, and insert the "personalized" ads in their local newspapers. All of the images used in the PSAs are available in posters and post cards for display in waiting rooms, hospitals, schools and community centers.

State and specialty orthopaedic societies will participate in the PSA program, too. Many state orthopaedic societies have their names included as taglines on the televisions PSAs. Two of the PSAs have the partnership with American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine and National Osteoporosis Foundation.

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Last modified 18/March/2000 by IS