Mahaniah started this appointment with Wood, as he does now with many patients, by asking if she’ll get vaccinated.
“I don’t know, it just scares me,” she says. “There’s so much out there and so much misinformation, it’s hard to know what to believe.”
Mahaniah asks Wood more about why the vaccine is scary, where she gets information and whether her family and friends plan to be vaccinated.
“The thing that really influences people whether or not they’re going to get the vaccine is what their social circle is doing,” he says, after the appointment.
Wood has some skeptical family members. She’s eligible for the vaccine based on some high risk medical conditions but has declined so far.
Mahaniah is having a lot of open-ended discussions with patients about their health and vaccines. He says it’s pretty clear that giving people more data is not persuasive. Instead, he uses a technique known as motivational interviewing as he would with patients who smoke or who are due a screening test they’re avoiding.
“I don’t approach these [conversations] as me being able to provide them with the right information to make the right decision,” Mahaniah says. “I’m really approaching these as, let’s try to create a space in which a conversation can happen where they can evince their doubts, their uncertainties.”