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Someone Really Studied Meeting Food Effect?

November 24, 2011
Written by: , Filed in: Neuroradiology, Practice Management
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Well, the issue date is November, not April 1, so apparently the current issue of the Journal of the American College of Radiology really did publish a study examining whether attendance at monthly radiology department faculty meetings was affected by the presence or absence of free food.

At least we think the food was free. The journal article calls it “complementary,” which means “serving to fill out or complete.” Presumably, the word the authors intended to use was “complimentary.”

Researchers at Mayo Clinic—yes, Mayo Clinic—in Rochester, Minnesota, retrospectively studied meeting attendance for one year with free food provided and for another year after the food service was canceled in a cost-cutting effort. Except for two early-morning meetings at which breakfast was served, all meetings took place over the lunch hour. The researchers followed seven different meeting groups: four in the neuroradiology division and three covering the entire department.

In 2008, the last year of the free food era, average annual attendance for the seven meeting groups ranged from 31 percent to 72 percent. In 2009, during the new starvation regime, attendance ranged from 33 percent to 68 percent.

Concluded Robert J. McDonald, MD, PhD, but not RD (registered dietitian), of the radiology department, and his colleagues:

Our results demonstrated that faculty attendance at monthly meetings in academic radiology was not affected by the presence or absence of complementary [sic] food provisions. These findings applied to both general and divisional meetings as well as working meetings focused on specific departmental tasks.

Mayo saved $92,205 by cutting out the catering. The researchers didn’t mention whether the meeting attendees lost any weight during the no-food year. Perhaps we can look forward to a follow-up study.

Think we’re joking? This study was itself a follow-up to a study published on July 12, 2007, in the open-access journal BMC Medical Education. The earlier article concluded that the addition of free food (paid for by pharmaceutical companies) increased attendance at medical grand rounds.

Dr. McDonald and the other authors of the new study attributed the differing results to faculty members being more interested and invested in their departmental meetings.

Apparently not interested enough in some of them to achieve attendance rates of more than 33 percent, but OK, whatever.

Hmmmm. McDonald … McDonald’s … you don’t suppose … ?


We wish everyone happy, safe, and well-attended Thanksgiving festivities.

Related seminar: Radiology Review


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