May 13, 2022
UCalgary team to create training program to educate on vaccine advocacy
Issues around vaccine hesitancy were illuminated and amplified by the COVID pandemic, but there are core issues and communication competencies with any adult vaccine such as the flu, shingles and hepatitis B. A new study will result in the creation of a training program, using virtual simulation games, that will allow health-care practitioners to gain confidence and skill in communicating with patients who are reluctant to be immunized.
“The reasons for vaccine hesitancy are complex,” explains Dr. Sandra Davidson, dean of UCalgary Nursing and principal investigator for the Training Program for Optimized Vaccine Communication: Empowering our Future Health Care Workers with Vaccination Confidence and Competency, funded by the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC). "But vaccination is one of the most effective ways to protect the health of Canadians."
Davidson’s co-principal investigator on the project is UCalgary Cumming School of Medicine’s Dr. Cora Constantinescu who runs a paediatric vaccine hesitancy clinic within Alberta Health Services. Targeted to trainees in medicine, nursing and pharmacy, Davidson, Constantinescu and the project team have already completed a protocol paper and scoping review on the current state of educational resources and programs that exist around vaccines and vaccine hesitancy for health-care providers.
Gaps that were illuminated include the skills and practices necessary to hold effective conversations addressing vaccine hesitancy, and developing the resilience and tools for self-efficacy/self-compassion that will support future health-care providers to keep going — even when these often heated and polarizing conversations with patients don’t turn out as planned.
Three games will be created this week in UCalgary Nursing’s Clinical Simulation Learning Centre by actors using GoPro cameras for a first person feel of the vignettes used in the games. The games will then be assembled using Articulate, software used to build interactive training, and validated and tested with students from UWaterloo School of Pharmacy, UCalgary Nursing and CMS medical residents.
Learning outcomes for “Booster” (Game 1) include helping a health-care provider understand how to develop rapport with the patient; for “Finishing a vaccine series” (Game 2), building an ongoing relationship with the patient and identifying the root causes of their hesitancy; and for “What to do when you can’t convince…” (Game 3), guiding difficult conversations and high emotions to maintain focus on the patient’s health needs as well as on a professional sense of self-efficacy after a challenging interaction.
All the games have been created to be “discipline agnostic,” explains Davidson. “We view the competency to have these types of conversations as essential and consistent for all three disciplines. We have also purposefully NOT focused just on COVID-19 but tried to make these scenarios relevant/inclusive of almost any vaccine.
“We know that it is critical as many people as possible get vaccinated to help keep themselves and their communities healthy and protect our health-care system,” she continues, adding that doubts and hesitations about all types of vaccines exist and that Canadians look to health-care providers as trusted sources for information and guidance.
These educational interventions will be made available for use in any nursing, pharmacy and medical school across Canada and will go a long way to equip future nurses, physicians and pharmacists with the tools to address vaccine hesitancy with patients.
The project is one of 10 community-based grants the PHAC announced late last year from its Immunization Partnership Fund to address misinformation around the vaccines.