Improving the ability of health care professionals to address health misinformation: a quality improvement project

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The Ohio State University

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Background: Health misinformation is a serious threat to public health, as it not only causes confusion but also sows mistrust of health professionals and the healthcare delivery system. By virtue of professional obligation, nurses, nurse practitioners, physician assistants and physicians have a responsibility to confront false or misleading health beliefs; however, to truly engage with patients, health professionals must feel confident in their communication skills, which can be improved through training and quality improvement (QI) efforts. Objective: The purpose of this evidence-based QI project was to improve health professionals' ability to effectively address health misinformation. Methods: Pre- and post-surveys were used to assess the confidence, knowledge, and skills of health professionals practicing in an outpatient oncology setting in which all have experienced at least weekly encounters in which a patient shares their beliefs in health misinformation. WordPress was used to design an asynchronous educational module on an open platform site to provide training to learn communication strategies for addressing health misinformation. Results: Following project implementation, the percentage of health professionals (n=14) who were moderately or extremely confident in effectively addressing health misinformation increased from 26.67% to 42.85%. Health professionals agreed or strongly agreed (92.86%) that the microlearning modules were helpful in learning communication skills to address misinformation. Conclusions: A critical contribution toward future mitigation of health misinformation will be the universal training of health professionals in knowing how to confidently encounter a patient with strongly held beliefs that are in opposition to evidence-based research and science.



health misinformation, communication skills training, microlearning