CHRT and DHLS in Crain’s: The public trusts health care providers, but they aren’t getting enough information from them

July 21, 2020 | Crain's Detroit, In The Media

Drawing of a girl wearing a mask“People trust health care providers, public health officials, and Governor (Gretchen) Whitmer more than many other sources when it comes to communicating important messages about COVID-19,” says Melissa Riba, CHRT’s director of research and evaluation, in a new Crain’s Detroit Business article by senior health care journalist Jay Greene. “But an overwhelming majority (74 percent) of respondents to the survey also said they are worried that Michiganders are less safe because of misinformation being spread about COVID-19,” reports Greene, sharing findings from CHRT’s most recent Cover Michigan Survey.

Some 80 percent of survey respondents reported that the COVID-19 information source they trust in their own healthcare provider, but less than half of the respondents reported receiving COVID-19 information from their healthcare provider.

“The public trusts health care providers, but they aren’t getting enough information from them,” Marianne Udow-Phillips told Crain’s. “That is an opportunity for health care providers to become a leading source of trusted information.”

The problem reports Greene, is that doctors and other healthcare providers don’t often provide direct information to their patients, a practice that Udow-Phillips says should change. Doctors could speak authoritatively of the benefits of wearing masks in public, a practice that all experts now agree can contribute to reducing community spread, Udow-Phillips told Crain’s. “My own health care provider hasn’t contacted me, saying, ‘You should be wearing a mask,'” she said. ‘It could help if they heard from their own doctor.”

Researchers concluded that to combat COVID-19 it is critical for the public to trust the information they receive. “But the disconnect between high trust and simultaneous low use of information sources will challenge public policymakers and health practitioners, requiring diligence in selecting the messengers, channels, and platforms that resonate best with Michigan residents as the state moves into the next phase of pandemic response,” researchers said.