Jan 27, 2010 (CIDRAP News) Fine-tuning pandemic communications strategies relating to children's issues can help avoid problems that doctors and hospitals experienced during surges of novel H1N1 flu, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said today in new guidance.
The guidance notes that better communication could help patients avoid unnecessary visits to emergency departments. It also notes other avoidable problems that healthcare providers encountered during the pandemic, such as parents flooding doctors' offices asking for their children to be tested, sending children to school sick, and intentionally exposing youngsters to those with known infections ("flu parties").
The guidance, posted today on the CDC's Web site, was developed by the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education, which is part of the Department of Energy. It reflects input from pediatric stakeholders such as representatives from national associations, pediatric medical practices, and hospitals.
Aimed at community planners, the guidance is designed to help communicate with both the medical community and the general public during a flu pandemic.
The six main steps for putting together a coordinated plan include:
- Identify trusted information sources such as federal and state health agencies and professional associations
- Single out "the voice" of the community, such as the local public health department
- Pinpoint those who need the information, which will include members of the medical community and the general public
- Identify the information needed, such as how to counter antivaccine rhetoric or how to limit exposure to the virus
- Condense the information, such as developing fact sheets
- Select communication methods, such as flyers, hotlines, or social media
The pediatric stakeholders input produced several tips for mounting an efficient and effective pandemic communications response. Participants emphasized that people need to know where to get information, the information needs to come from a trusted source, the content needs to be up to date and reliable, and it needs to be accessible.