OU senior to present research on patients’ health decisions

By Erica Marracco

RJ Mey, a senior at Oakland University, will be traveling to Tampa, Florida in March to visit the Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC) and attend the Research Network Forum (RNF).

Mey’s research is unofficially titled, “Their Words, Their Bodies: Assessing Agency in Endometrial Cancer Patients Within Online Discussion.”

He will be presenting his findings on how endometrial patients make their decisions for treatment and discuss such online.

The overall stance of his research is to examine the medical system and how patients who “know their stuff” choose treatment versus those who do little research and depend on their doctor or physician.

All of Mey’s research was found through examining public patient responses on open forums of the internet. The interactions of users of a website forum would expose how they felt about the medical system and what treatments they were looking into or decided to go forward with.

“I like to think that people who posted would be happy with my work, but I really can’t know,” Mey said. “It’s a given that this information is available indefinitely to the public.”

“This year RJ will be presenting research for the second time at [RNF] which is quite an accomplishment for an undergraduate researcher,” writing and rhetoric professor Dr. Besty Allan said.

Also an experienced researcher, Mey worked at Treato analyzing data. Treato is a company that collects patient-written health experiences from blogs and forums. Treato allows some insights into patients’ opinions and attitudes about the medical system.

“While debating my topic choice, my main concern was agency,” Mey said. “While working at Treato, I was seeing a lot of women and men being neglected by the medical field.”

What solidified Mey’s topic choice was having his article proposal accepted by a rhetoric journal called “Present Tense.”

“I took that as a good sign,” Mey said.

Mey’s major, writing and rhetoric, is paired with an odd choice for a minor, biology and philosophy.

“It’s a non-traditional major for a medical student,” Mey said.

What some med students may not know, though, is that medical schools look for students who have scientific knowledge as well as excellent writing and communication skills, according to Associate Professor and the Chair of the Department of Writing and Rhetoric, Lori Oostergaard.

Mey is combining his love for writing and rhetoric with his passion for human health, saying his being a pre-med student combines the hard science with communication.

Contact Erica Marracco via email at [email protected]