Celebrating the past and shaping the future

November 02, 2000

Online patient-helpers and physicians working together: a new partnership for high quality healthcare

The role of complementary and alternative medicine

Safeguards for research using large scale DNA collections

The Millennium Festival of Medicine - a programme of events running throughout 2000 to celebrate innovation and achievement - holds its keynote conference in London next week. Several articles in this week's BMJ are based on presentations from this event, exploring some of the challenges and dilemmas medicine faces as we enter the 21st century.

As more and more patients make use of online health resources, there will be increasing demands for physicians to communicate electronically with their patients, writes Tom Ferguson, Professor of Health Informatics at the University of Texas. He reports on the benefits of communicating with patients online, and suggests that online patient services can help physicians provide better care in less time.

The use of complementary and alternative medicine is currently around 20% in the UK and is predicted to grow in popularity, according to Edzard Ernst at the University of Exeter. He reports that much complementary and alternative medicine remains opinion based, and calls for unbiased scientific evaluation in the future to ensure patients and healthcare providers know which forms are safe and effective.

The recent controversy surrounding the creation of a population based DNA collection in Iceland provides important lessons for those embarking on a similar exercise in the UK, write Jane Kaye and Paul Martin. They argue that public debate concerning the possible use and misuse of sensitive genetic information and a clear legal framework for research activities are needed to avoid public opposition to the proposed UK Population Biomedical Collection. "Without widespread public support for population genetic studies, there is a real danger that human genetics could become the next biotechnology scare," they conclude.

For further information visit The Millennium Festival of Medicine website at: www.medicine2000.org

Tom Ferguson, Adjunct Associate Professor of Health Informatics, University of Texas-Houston, USA
Email: doctom@doctom.com

Edzard Ernst, Director, Department of Complementary Medicine, University of Exeter, UK
Email: E.Ernst@ex.ac.uk

Jane Kaye, Doctoral Student, St Catherine's College, University of Oxford, UK Email: jane.kaye@law.ox.ac.uk


Paul Martin, Genetics and Society Unit, School of Sociology and Social Policy, University of Nottingham, UK
Email: 100145.55@compuserve.com


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