A team of researchers from the University of Calgary has created an online portal that they hope will help family physicians when they speak with those who doubt the COVID-19 vaccine.

The Vaccine Vaccination Guide It comes at a time when Alberta has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country. As of Sunday, just under 68 percent of the eligible population in the province was fully vaccinated.

READ MORE: What can be done about Alberta’s slow COVID-19 vaccination rate? Experts say

“We are now at the stage where it matters,” said lead researcher and public policy professor Myles Leslie.

“These are going to be the hard-won commitments. These will be the difficult things and it is done one by one by one … For every extra person we can get, you get a little more. It is four times the amount of effort for a small advance, but we must also be in this phase. “

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Developed with input from family physicians in Alberta and across the country, the guide helps users navigate different issues related to vaccine vacillation, ranging from trauma due to prior healthcare experiences. to the absence of pandemic concerns and vaccine safety concerns. Offer personalized advice on how to address those concerns.

“The guide is based on the idea that hesitation comes from different places and you need to have different conversations when it comes to different places,” said Leslie.

“These are very difficult and very emotional places where people come from and they need to be treated differently than ‘Hey, here’s a brochure with more information.’

Content leader Raad Fadaak, who is also a research associate at the University of Calgary’s school of public policy, said the goal was to have a dynamic and interactive tool.

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“Something you can get from a phone, something you can get from a tablet, you can go to your desk … I think the digital format has been really important for sending messages about COVID vaccines,” he said. “The more you clicked, the deeper you wanted to go into a particular area, the more progressive the information would show you.

“We didn’t want to overload people, just like we don’t want to overload patients with a bunch of brochures and scientific information and so on.”

The portal also includes specific advice from doctors to other doctors on how to approach patients.

“That affirmative language about how difficult these conversations can be is really important to support physicians as they go through these challenging conversations with their patients,” Fadaak said.

So far, the researchers said there have been 50,000 visits since the portal launched in July.

Leslie said the guide was designed for family practitioners, as they are the healthcare professionals a patient is most likely to seek out and have often built relationships with patients.

“You don’t always take their advice, but at least you go to them for advice,” he said.

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Leslie emphasizes that the focus with these conversations is not confrontational; Rather, the guide is based on motivational interviews, which are based on discovering what motivates people.

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“The motivational interview finds people where they are, finds them with the concerns they have and works not only with the negative side … but also tries to work with their positive motivations,” he said.

“It is a guide for questions about vaccines. It is not an instruction manual to convince people. This is not a used car dealers convention on how to do this better. It is a guide to having a better conversation. “

Nicole Pinto, content leader for the guide and associate researcher at the school of public policy, said the team has already been contacted by doctors in Ontario who are interested in using it.

Although the guide was developed in Alberta, it can be used across the country, he said.

READ MORE: Reaching Vaccine Doubters: What Experts Say, Reluctant Canadians

“In fact, we have had quite a few positive comments. Many physicians said that they have been looking for similar resources, that they just need help in this space of trying to navigate these conversations, ”Pinto said.

Pinto said the team is working to ensure that the guide is updated as things evolve and that it can be adapted in the future to address other types of conditions that face vaccine hesitancy.

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