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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

If you feed them, they will come: A prospective study of the effects of complimentary food on attendance and physician attitudes at medical grand rounds at an academic medical center

Colin M Segovis1, Paul S Mueller1*, Melissa L Rethlefsen2, Nicholas F LaRusso3, Scott C Litin1, Ayalew Tefferi4 and Thomas M Habermann4

Author Affiliations

1 Division of General Internal Medicine, Mayo Clinic, 200 First Street SW, Rochester, MN 55905, USA

2 Learning Resource Center, Mayo Clinic, 200 First Street SW, Rochester, MN 55905, USA

3 Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Mayo Clinic, 200 First Street SW, Rochester, MN 55905, USA

4 Division of Hematology, Mayo Clinic, 200 First Street SW, Rochester, MN 55905, USA

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BMC Medical Education 2007, 7:22  doi:10.1186/1472-6920-7-22

Published: 12 July 2007

Abstract

Background

Evidence suggests that attendance at medical grand rounds at academic medical centers is waning. The present study examined whether attendance at medical grand rounds increased after providing complimentary food to attendees and also assessed attendee attitudes about complimentary food.

Methods

In this prospective, before-and-after study, attendance at medical grand rounds was monitored from September 25, 2002, to June 2, 2004, using head counts. With unrestricted industry (eg, pharmaceutical) financial support, complimentary food was provided to medical grand rounds attendees beginning June 4, 2003. Attendance was compared during the pre-complimentary food and complimentary food periods. Attitudes about the complimentary food were assessed with use of a survey administered to attendees at the conclusion of the study period.

Results

The mean (± SD) overall attendance by head counts increased 38.4% from 184.1 ± 90.4 during the pre-complimentary food period to 254.8 ± 60.5 during the complimentary food period (P < .001). At the end of the study period, 70.1% of the attendee survey respondents indicated that they were more likely to attend grand rounds because of complimentary food, 53.6% indicated that their attendance increased as a result of complimentary food, and 53.1% indicated that their attendance would decrease if complimentary food was no longer provided. Notably, 80.3% indicated that food was not a distraction, and 81.7% disagreed that industry representatives had influence over medical grand rounds because of their financial support for the food.

Conclusion

Providing free food may be an effective strategy for increasing attendance at medical grand rounds.