You’ve explained the research. You’ve cited statistics. You’ve appealed to emotions.
And still, you can’t seem to convince some parents to immunize their children. So
now when a parent refuses a vaccine, you may simply move on.
Don’t give up!
That’s the message Kenneth Hempstead, M.D., FAAP, plans to convey during an interactive
group forum titled “Immunizations: Communication Without Confrontation” from 2-3:30
p.m. Saturday, Nov. 3 (I1092) and again from 8:30-10 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 4 (I2038) in
room W224E of the convention center.
Dr. Hempstead has been taking a different tack with tough vaccine conversations in
his role as immunization champion and communication consultant at The Permanente Medical
Group in Roseville, Calif.
“A lot of our program gets away from the traditional educational component and points
to some reasons why that isn’t very effective,” Dr. Hempstead said.
He also has been taking his show on the road, teaching communication skills to pediatricians
participating in AAP immunization quality improvement projects.
He will share these techniques during the session he is leading with Katrina N. Saba,
M.D., FAAP, a member of the AAP Council on Community Pediatrics and chief of pediatrics,
The Permanente Medical Group in Oakland, Calif.
“These are old tools but hadn’t ever been specifically brought to bear on this challenging
vaccine discussion,” Dr. Hempstead said.
After a didactic presentation, Drs. Hempstead and Saba will show videos where actors
demonstrate the techniques. Then, attendees will partner up and practice what they’ve
“There are some simple and very quick techniques that they can very quickly incorporate
into their practices without being a communications expert,” Dr. Hempstead said.
Feedback from physicians who have attended his trainings has been positive, he added.
Once they realize they don’t have to argue with parents and endure unpleasant conversations,
they gain confidence. Even if they don’t persuade the parents to vaccinate at that
visit, they won’t dread the next encounter.
“By focusing on the relationship and focusing on the rapport-building, we’re playing
the long game,” Dr. Hempstead said. “And by creating a more pleasant conversation,
the door might stay open for the next time that we see them.”