OBJECTIVE--To determine the perceived value of attendance at an International AIDS Conference and attitudes towards the effect of patient attendance on the conference. DESIGN--A confidential, self-administered questionnaire. PARTICIPANTS--102 physicians from the United Kingdom who attended the VIII International AIDS Conference in Amsterdam. RESULTS--There was an 84% response rate. 50% reported increased motivation for clinical work and 57% for research. Physicians with a lower HIV positive patient workload found the conference more valuable for finding out the latest information on HIV, compared with those with a higher workload (p = 0.04). Those with a higher patient workload found the conference more useful for increasing motivation for research than those with a lower HIV workload (p = 0.047). Conference attendance was felt to reduce burnout by 48% of respondents. The majority (55%) would prefer a more traditional meeting. Patient attendance was seen as improving the standard of discussion of ethical and political issues but not on medical or scientific issues. CONCLUSIONS--The International AIDS Conferences are perceived as useful by those UK physicians who attend, but most would prefer a more "traditional" scientific meeting. Whilst patient participation was not seen as useful for medical or scientific discussions, it was felt to improve discussion of ethical and political issues. A smaller more focused conference may be equally useful to UK physicians.
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