Webinar Summary: How to Talk about Health – the Pandemic and Lessons Learned

By Theo Smith, Associate, Marketing & Communications 

On June 23, the National Health Council (NHC) hosted a webinar, How to Talk about Health – the Pandemic and Lessons Learned, featuring Dr. Lisa Fitzpatrick, Founder and CEO, Grapevine Health.  

During the webinar, Dr. Fitzpatrick connected issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic and health literacy. Recently, she launched a video series of impromptu conversations with people discussing a variety of health issues called, Ask the Doctors. The goal of this series is to engage with people in health-related conversations and show the universal nature of misinformation and misunderstanding when it comes to health terms.  

Through this series, Dr. Fitzpatrick found that most people do not understand the language doctors use, illustrating that it is important to meet people where they are, so they have access to information and resources that are clear.  

One of the main lessons learned from this series was that relatable and trustworthy health content is essential. Communicating with people about misinformation and science only works when the information is easy to understand. Dr. Fitzpatrick explained that there are a lot of virtual education programs being promoted as resources for patients; however, they are mostly experts on panels discussing health issues without directly addressing the needs and questions of patients and caregivers. This disconnect between science and the community is one of the main reasons there is so much distrust in science right now.  

Recently, the scientific community has been promoting COVID-19 vaccine uptake. However, most people want to be told more than just that they just need to get the vaccine. They want to understand it and why they should trust it.  

Through research from the ‘Ask the Doctors’ project, Dr. Fitzpatrick discovered that many people aren’t necessarily looking for a scientific approach to explain the vaccine; they simply want a straightforward and honest answer about why getting vaccinated is important.  

During the webinar, Dr. Fitzpatrick also emphasized the importance of relaying information from a credible messenger. The public often feels disconnected from health and science leaders; it is essential that community leaders are utilized to boost vaccine uptake.  

At the end of the webinar, Dr. Fitzpatrick provided viewers with three recommendations to make COVID-19 information more accessible and health literate.  

  • Representation matters! Modify language and images for different communities to ensure information is tailored to be more appropriate for specific audiences so they can receive the information they need and want.  
  • Be honest. Say what’s known and what’s not known and explain why. People want to understand the vaccine, so answer any questions they are asking.  
  • Acknowledge conspiracy theories and injustice because it’s happening. Acting like it doesn’t affects your credibility.  

Watch the full webinar below.