Patient Education


Patient Education, Dispelling Health Misinformation

  • Approach
  1. Patient Education effectiveness relies on the rapport and trust built from the patient-clinician relationship
  2. Sit down during the patient encounter
  3. Use open ended, non-judgmental questions
  4. Assist patients with reliable information they may use in making decisions based on their values
    1. Avoid prescriptive and paternalistic approach
  5. Provide information in small parts and reassess for understanding ("chunking")
  6. Employ anonymized patient stories and clinician experiences where appropriate
  7. Discuss both risks and benefits of recommended testing and treatment
  • Precautions
  • Health Misinformation and Disinformation
  1. Definitions
    1. Misinformation
      1. False information not delivered with malice
    2. Disinformation
      1. False information delivered as a deliberate attempt at deception
  2. Patient Education remains an important strategy in primary, secondary and tertiary prevention
    1. As clinicians, we bring an added credibilty and patient trust to Patient Education
    2. U.S. medical certification boards and licensing organizations emphasize reliable information
      1. Clinician spread of misinformation counter to standard of care may result in loss of license, certification
  3. Health disinformation and misinformation risks serious outcomes and death
    1. Covid19 misinformation in 2020-2022 resulted in under-Vaccination and mask resistance
      1. Estimated 163,000 excess covid deaths preventable with Vaccination U.S. June to November 2021
    2. FAD Diets and supplements of the late 1900s-2000s
    3. Anti-Vaccination movements (from Smallpox to Measles)
    4. Medicine shows of the 1800s (e.g. snake oil)
  4. Resources
    1. U.S. Surgeon General Statement regarding health misinformation
    2. Debunking Misinformation as "Science" (Hemmer, CNN)
  • References
  1. Barnes, Aust and Leaf (2022) Crit Dec Emerg Med 36(1): 21-25