March 9, 2022

Conversation-focused training may help HCWs combat vaccine hesitancy

Editor's Note

The biggest obstacle to achieving 100% vaccination rate in the US is no longer whether vaccines will be manufactured fast enough, or if there will be enough for the country’s population, Lisa Doggett, senior medical director at HGS AxisPoint Health, told Health Leaders March 8. “Rather, it's concerns about the safety of the vaccines stemming from misinformation and confirmation bias,” she said.

According to Health Leaders, about 81% of US citizens over 5 years old have gotten at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. That still leaves some 65 million unvaccinated people in the country.

Combating vaccine hesitancy and misinformation is of high concern for the current administration as well as for most healthcare executives. While much funding has been poured towards vaccine initiatives, including the recent announcement from the Department of Health and Human Services that the government will need $17.9 billion for current COVID-19 treatments and vaccines and an additional $3.7 billion to develop new vaccines, Doggett has been working on another facet of the problem.

According to Health Leaders, Doggett has been leading “special training sessions for patient-facing healthcare workers [HCWs] to help them feel confident when addressing patients who are hesitant about getting vaccinated.” The training, reception for which has been positive and recently spread across AxisPoint, said Doggett, focuses on getting HCWs to engage someone resistant to getting vaccinated in conversation.

"We don't launch into a lecture,” Doggett clarified. “We ask permission to share information, we check in, we ask for feedback." Because the patient-physician relationship can have a significant impact, Doggett said that training HCWs on asking questions with respect, showing curiosity, and expressing a genuine desire to understand the hesitancy towards vaccines may go a long way towards connecting with patients showing initial resistance.

OR Manager also recently reported on a national survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which found that nearly 78% of the survey participants who said that a healthcare professional advised them to get vaccinated had gotten one or more doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

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