Immunization conversations can be a challenge even for the most experienced family physician. Even when both the physician and patient agree on the benefit of vaccination, the discussion may require navigating a complicated mix of public health, infectious disease, and immunology interspersed with patient fears about safety and benefit. Fitting that neatly into an already jam-packed 15-minute encounter can be difficult.
Immunization counseling provides a great opportunity for shared decision-making with your patients and lays the foundation for successful health maintenance decisions in the future. Applying some basic knowledge about communication styles, using your motivational interviewing skills, and being prepared to respond to common questions can allow even a busy provider to experience success with vaccine counseling.
Consider Flexing to Your Patient’s Preferred Communication Style
Learning styles and personality types are often an untapped resource when communicating during office visits. In general, people tend to fall into four major types: Thinkers, Planners, Dreamers, and Feelers. Figuring out your patient’s preferred style and crafting your message to make it easiest for him or her to understand the message. Table 1 reviews the common types and examples of tools that may work better with one group over another.