eLearning: Myths and misconceptions
The urge to correct your patient when they repeat a myth or a misconception can damage the trust you’ve established with them. In this module, you will learn some useful strategies to effectively address myths and misunderstandings.
The development of this content was led by the Murdoch Children's Research Institute for the MumBubVax website (now archived). Please note these video modules include logos and visuals that relate to the original website. Updated video modules will be developed in the future.
This eLearning module was originally designed primarily for use in general practice but the information and tips featured are applicable to various healthcare settings.
The temptation to correct or set someone straight when presented with a misunderstanding or myth can be almost irresistible. Giving in to the ‘righting reflex’, as it is known, creates the impression that you are defending vaccination and can damage the trusting relationship you’ve established.
Here are some key strategies to effectively address myths and misunderstandings:
- Acknowledge the woman’s concern
Don’t focus on or try to discredit the source of her information.
- Try to avoid restating the myth
Restating the myth reinforces it in a person’s mind and makes it more memorable, even if you’re explaining why it’s not true.
- Provide a few key facts that offer an alternative explanation
If you overwhelm someone with information, they’ll tune out and end up remembering just the myth.
- Focus on the disease
Bring the focus of the discussion back to the disease itself.
- Recommend vaccination
The psychological response to new information is resistance. Connecting your recommendation with the values the woman has expressed helps overcome this.
These techniques for addressing myths and misinformation are all supported by theory and evidence.