Explore how even a short educational session can help fend off harmful rhetoric and stigmas surrounding healthcare crises like the recent monkeypox outbreak with this recap of a poster that was presented at the 2023 APA Annual Meeting.
Separating fact from fiction is critical when a healthcare crisis quickly escalates, and mental health providers should have a thorough understanding of the outbreak to combat any stigma. A study on provider education and stigma concerning the recent spread of the monkeypox virus was presented at the 2023 APA Annual Meeting.
The monkeypox virus is primarily found in the Congo and West Africa, but in May 2022, an outbreak occurred in non-endemic areas of the Western world. 35,000 cases were reported by August 17, 2022, most of which were among men who have sex with men (MSM). Stigma associated with the virus may cause shame, which can lead to delayed treatment and increased transmission. According to the study, educating healthcare providers may be the first step to stop the stigma.
To assess the impact an educational talk can have on medical students and psychiatry residents, a Likert-scale survey was conducted before and after a 45-minute session regarding monkeypox. 17 subjects responded to the pre-survey and 10 responded to the post-survey. The scores indicated a clear benefit of education. According to the survey:
- Self-reported knowledge increased from 2.14 to 3.75
- Importance of being knowledgeable about monkeypox increased from 4.5 to 4.8
- Comfort level counseling patients on monkeypox increased from 1.86 to 3.67
When an outbreak disproportionately affects MSM, accurate information is needed to fend off harmful rhetoric and stigmas. This research highlighted the benefits of even a short educational session, and additional research will measure how a well-informed healthcare provider can best counsel patients.