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Learning the Lyrics 

My youngest son plays baseball. The February of his freshman year in college, I traveled to watch a scrimmage game. As with most ballparks, music would play between innings, and I was immediately struck by the song selections - mostly songs about pick-up trucks, sweet tea, windows rolled down and fried chicken....I didn't recognize any of them. As I was wondering who in the world was making these musical selections, I glanced around at the other fans huddled in the stands and they ALL appeared to be singing along! Obviously, I was the one missing out.

Later that night, I asked my son how he was getting along, and he told me that he was fitting in just fine. Then I happened to remark about the music at the ball field and he told me that he too knew all the lyrics.

Learning the lyrics is about fitting in. How much more comfortable do we feel when the tune is familiar and we know what comes next? I've thought about that in a much broader sense than just music, and feel that it can be a metaphor for many life experiences.

In clinical research, each program is carefully designed and planned out to the smallest detail. Each visit and procedure, dose and measurement, is scheduled and calculated before the first person is ever enrolled into the study. Potential participants are a vital part of a process where questions are encouraged and the program is thoroughly explained all along the way. All of this leads to a familiarity which gives comfort and ease about what comes next. We don't promote surprises, we promote collaboration, and to that end we like to ensure that we're all singing along to the same song.

 

Posted by Amy Autry Bush Monday, September 30, 2013 2:46:00 PM Categories: Musings

Removing the mystery from a new experience can make a world of difference 

When my boys were small we enjoyed reading together Paddy Dog Sees a Ghost, a book about a silly dog afraid to go into the forest because he sees a ghost waving to him in the trees. Well, it turns out that the ghost is simply a white piece of fabric stuck on a branch, and with the help of his good friends the duck and the cat, who reveal the threat to be no threat at all, Paddy Dog once again feels safe to go into the forest.

I have a silly dog at home myself, and while his name is not Paddy Dog, that is exactly what I call him at his sillier moments. During a spell of cold weather last Spring, I covered a tender shrub with a sheet to protect it from the freeze. I was inside the house visiting with a close friend when my “Paddy Dog” started barking his head off and running in and out the doggie door to alert me to some new, imminent danger in the back yard. When we had finally had enough and went outside to see what was up, I realized that his distress was caused by the white “ghost” that had suddenly appeared in his backyard. He was overcome with alarm.

There was nothing for it: the only way to restore the peace was to demonstrate to Paddy Dog that what he interpreted as a threat was nothing but a bed sheet covering a shrub. I uncovered the plant, showed Paddy Dog the sheet, and, to our relief, tranquility was restored to the yard.

After this funny experience I got to thinking about how we perceive threat. For Paddy Dog, it was the sudden appearance of the unknown in an otherwise familiar environment that was threatening. When the bush was uncovered, the threat explained, and the menacing exposed as benign, all was well with the world. Research can be just like this. New and unknown medications, procedures, and therapies can be mysterious and somewhat frightening. We at JCCR understand this, and our commitment to information access and health education sets us apart in the research community. We have decades of experience venturing with our patients into the forest and pulling the sheet from the branch. We don’t believe in ghosts!

Posted by Admin Monday, August 5, 2013 5:37:00 PM Categories: Musings
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