Published Date

January 1, 1946

Resource Type

GI Roundtable Series, Primary Source

From GI Roundtable 29: Is Your Health the Nation’s Business? (1946)

Every human being is faced with the problem of his own personal health. The head of a family has the added responsibility of looking after the health of his wife and children. Civic-minded individuals recognize that health is also a community concern-that good health for the individual often depends on improving health conditions and health standards for the community.

This pamphlet presents major points of view on the important question of improving health. It does not try to give an answer. That is something for the individual to think through for himself.

It is doubtful whether any reader of this pamphlet or any member of a discussion group would argue against the improvement of health. Discussion leaders will encounter plenty of conflicting opinions, however, when they raise the question of how health can best be improved. This question of how it should be done is something to talk over at your discussion meeting on the basis of the soundest information available.


How can you plan a discussion meeting?

Discussions are ideas in action. You cannot have a lively voluntary discussion unless you bring together individuals who are interested in a subject. Therefore, you need two things: a subject that will interest some people very much, and a-means of letting people know that a discussion meeting is to be held on that subject.

“Is Your Health the Nation’s Business?” is a subject that will probably interest many people.

Your first major task as a discussion leader, therefore, is to ‘ let people in your area know that you are planning a discussion meeting on health.

How can you do this? There are several possibilities. You can show a copy of this pamphlet to the editor of your local newspaper and explain to him the type of program you are planning. You can prepare notices to be placed on bulletin boards. You can prepare posters for reading rooms where you have placed copies of this pamphlet. You can suggest that local librarians arrange reading table displays of this pamphlet and other suggested reading material on public health. Finally, you can “talk it up” to certain individuals who will pass the word along to their friends that a discussion meeting is going to be held on this subject. This procedure on your part will give people who are interested an opportunity to plan to attend your meeting.

What kind of discussion works best?

Each discussion leader is probably his own best judge as to what type of discussion will be most satisfactory for his group. If you are in doubt you might discuss this matter with qualified advisers. In malting this decision you should consider several important factors. How large will the discussion group probably be? What hind of facilities are available at the meeting place? What type of discussion has proved most popular with local discussion groups in the past? What good speakers might be obtained for this particular subject?

You should be certain that you understand the general ad-vantages and disadvantages of various types of discussion. Forums, panel discussions, symposiums, and general group discussions are the forms most frequently used. EM 1, Guide for Discussion Leaders, tells just how they differ from one another. Below are some specific suggestions.

Forum: A competent doctor who is a good speaker might make an excellent forum speaker on health. One who has had both civilian and military experience in dealing with health problems might be particularly well qualified. After his preliminary talk on health, members of your group could question the speaker on points of particular interest to them.

Panel Discussion: Health is a subject that would lend itself particularly well to a panel discussion if you can get four or five qualified speakers. A group of young doctors, or a combination of doctors, dentists, and psychologists, might make a panel that would keep the discussion ball rolling in a lively manner. Time should be allowed for members of your group to question the panel participants.

Symposium: Two or more doctors, particularly those with diverse ideas about how to improve health, would make good symposium speakers. You should limit each to about ten minutes so that members of your group will have an opportunity to question all the speakers.

Informal Discussion: Since health directly concerns every individual and each has his own ideas about maintaining health, your entire program could be conducted as an informal discussion. It will be necessary for you, as discussion leader, to be familiar with the contents of this pamphlet and to be prepared with well-organized questions to bring out major health issues for discussion.

Can discussion handbooks be helpful?

Discussion leaders will find many helpful suggestions on planning and conducting discussions in EM 1, Guide for Discussion Leaders. This Guide discusses in detail the various types of discussion possible. It gives helpful hints on handling difficult personalities at discussion meetings. It emphasizes the importance of careful planning and outlining a program of discussion. Study of this handbook will enable a discussion deader to improve his program; it challenges him to use his `own ingenuity to make his program interesting and worthwhile.

.Some discussion leaders face the problem of planning and conducting programs to be broadcast over the radio or on a loud-speaker system of Armed Forces Radio Service. They will find EM 90, GI Radio Roundtable, full of sound advice and usable suggestions.

Questions for discussion

You should jot down your own questions as you read this pamphlet and outline your discussion program. You should encourage members of your group to ask questions. Some-times the most helpful questions grow out of the discussion itself. It is well, however, to be prepared. Below are some questions which you may find helpful.

  1. Has civilian medical care been accessible and satisfactory to members of the discussion group and their families? Has the problem of payment for physicians’ care or hospitalization been difficult? Have doctors and hospitals been located reasonably near at hand? Has it been easy or difficult to obtain the services of necessary specialists? Why?
  2. Would the problem of payment for medical service be eased by insurance against the costs? Do you think voluntary insurance against the costs of sickness can provide a satisfactory solution for the problem of payment throughout the country? In urban communities? In rural areas? In all geographical areas?
  3. Would there be professional advantages in a scheme in which physicians practiced in groups? Economic advantages? From the patient’s point of view? From the doctor’s point of view?
  4. How do the advantages and disadvantages of medical practice in the military services compare with those of present-day civilian medicine? From the patient’s point of view? From the doctor’s point of view?
  5. Is the normal peacetime distribution of civilian physicians and hospitals satisfactory? What factors influence this distribution the most? Could they be modified by physicians? By the public? How?
  6. What measures have recently been proposed by the American Medical Association to meet the nation’s health needs? What effect do you think these proposals, if carried out, would have upon (a) the ability of people generally to pay the costs of sickness? (b) the distribution of doctors’ and hospital services? (c) the quality of medical and hospital services?
  7. Do you think the United States government should (a) do nothing further in the health field? (b) support only special health programs such as those to benefit mothers and children or combat venereal disease, tuberculosis, and mental illness? or (c) sponsor national action for health care on a broader basis by insurance or tax support? Would action by the federal government tend to improve or lower the quality of medical care received by people generally? Why? Would most doctors benefit or suffer economically and professionally as a result of federal action? Why?
  8. Should the federal government aid in the construction of hospitals where they are needed? How should such hospitals be supported if built? Who should own them? Who should determine their location? What doctors should be eligible to fuse them? What patients should be eligible for admission to them? Would hospitals built without federal government aid serve the public better?


For Further Reading

These books are suggested for supplementary reading if you have access to them or wish to purchase them from the publishers. They are not approved nor officially supplied by the War Department. They have been selected because they give additional information and represent different points of view.

America Organizes Medicine. By Michael M. Davis. Published by Harper and Brothers, 49 East 33d St., New York 16, N. Y. (1941). $3.00.

Organized Payments For Medical Services. By Bureau of Medical Economics of American Medical Association, 535 North Dearborn St., Chicago, Ill. (1941). Copies no longer available from publisher.

“U. S. Medicine In Transition.” Article in Fortune, December 1944. Reprints available on request from Fortune, Empire State Building, 350 Fifth Ave., New York 1., N. Y.

“Justice and the Future of Medicine.” Article by Wendell Berge in Public Health Reports, Vol. 60, No. 1, January 5, 1945. May be obtained from Government Printing Office, Washington 25, D.C. 10 cents.

Health Insurance in America. Published by United States Chamber of Commerce, 1615 H St., N.W., Washington 6, D.C. (1945). Addresses delivered at the Second National Conference on Social Security. Free on request to servicemen.

Wartime Health and Education. Report No. 3 of the Senate Subcommittee on Wartime Health and Education, Senate Office Building, Washington 25, D.C. (January 1945). Free on request.

Health Care for Americans. By C.-E. A. Winslow. NO. 104 of Public Affairs Pamphlets, published by Public Affairs Committee, 30 Rockefeller Plaza, New York 20, N. Y. (1945). 10 cents.

Principles of a National Health Program. Report of the Health Program Conference, published by Committee on Research in Medical. Economics, 1790 Broadway, New York 19, N. Y. (1944). 10 cents.

“Content and Administration of a Medical Care Program.” An article by Joseph W. Mountin in American Journal of Public Health (December 1944). Reprints available from American Public Health Association, 1790 Broadway, New York 19, N. Y. 25 cents.

Voluntary Medical Insurance in the United States Major Trends and Current Problems. By Helen Hershfield Avnet. Published by Medical Administration Service, 1790 Broadway, New York 19, N. Y. (1944). $1.00.

Medical Service Plans. Report of Bureau of Medical Economics of American Medical Association (1943). Copies no longer available from publisher.

A Constructive Program for Medical Care. The official program of American Medical Association, in Journal of the American Medical Association, July 21, 1945. See also editorial and article called “Health Insurance” in the same issue.

National Health Service. By British Ministry of Health and Department of Health for Scotland. Published by Macmillan Co., 60 Fifth Ave., New York 11, N. Y. (1944). 75 cents.

“The Wagner-Murray-Dingell Bill-S.1050 of 1945.” An analysis by Bureau of Legal Medicine of American Medical Association, in Journal of the American Medical Association, June 2, 1945. See also an editorial on the bill in the same number. Reprints available on request. Much material on the 1943 and 1945 Wagner-Murray-Dingell bills appears in other issues of the Journal. See especially an analysis by the Bureau of Legal Medicine and an editorial (June 26, 1943), and comments by Senator Wagner (June 30, 1945).

“American Bar Association Committee Reports.” In Journal of the American Medical Association, March 11, 1944. Reprints available on request.

For the Peoples Health. Published by Physicians Forum, 71 East 87th St., New York, N. Y. (1945). Free on request to servicemen.

Science, The Endless Frontier. By Vannevar Bush. Published by Government Printing Office, Washington 25, D: C. (1945). 30 cents.