Sunday House Call, #742, June 7, 2020: The Public Health Credibility Gap.

Health policy is evolving as new information is gathered, as we learn from available studies, and with ongoing research and clinical experience.

During the pandemic we have been advised by public health agencies and our governments to follow a set of rules to reduce the spread of coronavirus. People have responded well to this and have cooperated producing a positive outcome.

The only currency during this pandemic that health professionals (and politicians) have when providing information to the public at large is their credibility. Their actions must be congruous with what they are suggesting others do.

Recommendations do change and it is vitally important to communicate clearly and provide a consistent message based on the available evidence.

Robyn Urback has written a thought provoking opinion piece about this issue in The Globe and Mail. She states, ” The same people who have for months been telling us to hunker down cannot be the ones tacitly endorsing public demonstrations – particularly if they expect people to continue following their distancing instructions.”

Once your credibility is damaged, it is difficult to regain the public trust.

Your calls about

  • A 91 year-old man with swollen feet
  • Pandemic health policy recommendations for the disabled
  • A caller wants to know if there a substitute for Viagra?

I also discuss how future antibody testing for past Covid-19 infection needs to be targeted to specific greater-risk groups. An excellent article by Jonathan Jarry explains why.