Center for Excellence in Collaborative Education co-authors interprofessional essay on reducing COVID-19 misinformation

Exterior of Alumni Hall on the Portland Campus
The essay was co-authored by CECE Director Shelley Cohen Konrad, Ph.D.

Shelley Cohen Konrad, Ph.D., LCSW, FNAP, director of the Center for Excellence in Collaborative Education at UNE, is co-author of an essay on methods to reduce misinformation about the COVID-19 pandemic published in a white paper by RTI Press, a global publisher of peer-reviewed, open access publications.

The full white paper comprises insights from several organizations and academic institutions on how to prepare health professionals to address medical misinformation and improve patient health. It includes a collection of essays highlighting examples of competency-based, interprofessional strategies to address health misinformation and mistrust through health professions education.

Cohen Konrad’s essay, “Addressing COVID-19 Misinformation in Maine Through Collaborative Learning and Interprofessional Education,” is co-authored with Jennifer Hayman, M.D., and Linda Chaudron, M.D., M.S., both of Maine Medical Center (MMC) and Tufts University School of Medicine-Maine Track; MMC’s Christine Mallar, B.A., Grace Price, M.D., and Brendan Prast, M.D.; and Julia Safarik of the Maine Health Department of Medical Education.

Using studies evaluating effective communication in allaying COVID-19 misinformation, the authors hypothesized that real-life examples of benefits to the community — such as vaccines and other disease mitigation methods — would provide insight into experiential learning opportunities and serve as a basis for developing scripting strategies and other educational materials for practitioners to improve communication with patients and colleagues misinformed about COVID-19.

The authors performed a literature review of what is currently known about COVID-19 misinformation, conducted focus groups of interprofessional health care students from two schools of medicine and health sciences education, directed a qualitative analysis of focus group transcripts to identify drivers of misinformation and vaccine hesitancy, and compared identified themes to the already published data.

The goal of the study was to create an online curriculum addressing misinformation when talking to patients or other health care workers using didactic and exemplar video interactions, which the researchers did following their analysis. The group also collaboratively sponsored a pandemic misinformation symposium available to a broad range of health care and community professionals.

The group’s hypothesis was supported, with the authors saying their initial experiences provided an ideal opportunity to understand a broad range of professional perspectives on health misinformation. By identifying themes emerging from interprofessional focus groups, they said, the group identified a range of ideas and specific examples that supports previous health misinformation research and provides more specific and nuanced information that will be useful in developing targeted interprofessional curricula and standardized patient scenarios.

Shelley Cohen Konrad

Shelley Cohen Konrad