With only 49% of the United States vaccinated against COVID-19 as of July 21, it can feel like your efforts to educate patients enough to protect themselves are in vain. New data published by the Journal of the American Medical Association says otherwise, however. In fact, it appears that messages delivered by physicians can actually help increase COVID-19 knowledge and even bridge the gap in health inequities among different racers in the U.S. Drawn from a survey of 18,223 Black adults and White adults, the results did not differ by race. Participants viewed educational videos featuring either a Black physician or a White physician. The “placebo” group saw one dealing with general health topics, while the “treatment” group saw one of several versions dealing with common symptoms of COVID-19, current case numbers, or Centers for Disease and Prevention social distancing guidelines. Post viewing, the treatment groups showed smaller gaps in COVID-19 knowledge compared with the control group’s knowledge of the general topics covered in their video (incidence rate ratio of 0.89 vs 1.05). Further, self-reported safety behaviors improved in the treatment groups. The authors concluded that “physician messaging campaigns may be effective in persuading members of society from a broad range of backgrounds to seek information and adopt preventive behaviors to combat COVID-19.” The bottom line: If you persist in trying to reach patients who still don’t get the message that vaccination and reasonable risk-reduction behaviors can save lives, there’s a good chance you’ll get through to at least a few—and that could literally be the difference between life and death for some families.
Keep at It—Physician-Delivered Patient Ed Really Does Make a Difference (Especially with COVID-19)