Last week I attended a training designed to help people build confidence in the covid-19 vaccine. The instructor helped us separate vaccine education from encouragement to get vaccinated. Of course we want people to get vaccinated. With covid cases spiking around the world, vaccines are the only way we’ll stop the spread. But the instructor reminded us that vaccines are personal medical decisions. We should answer questions about the vaccine in a way that helps people understand it. It’s the same approach healthcare workers use to explain any risky-but-beneficial treatment. We describe in detail what we know, answer questions, make a recommendation, and leave the autonomy to the patient.
When we split the education from the vaccine, we allow that some people we talk to will choose not to get the vaccine. That doesn’t mean they won’t ever get it. They might need to sleep on it, or talk about it with their family. We learned about the Transtheoretical Model of Health Behavior Change (TTM). Prochaska, Di Clemente, and others first proposed the model in 1977. They developed it from their work helping people to quit smoking. Here, my instructor used the model to help us understand vaccine contemplation. Our education about the vaccine might help nudge a person from refusal to desire.
Learning about the TTM got me thinking. In the antiracism world, we talk a lot about how to change the minds of people we talk to. Could I apply this model to that effort? I decided to give it a try.
In normal times, I would finish my blog post here. But this has been a week! I injured myself a few different ways, I got knocked out by a tetanus vaccine (don’t ask), and Seattle is blazing hot and smoky. Next week, I’ll dive into the TTM and propose antiracism actions for each step of the way… See you then!