TELL ME (Transparent communication in Epidemics: Learning Lessons from experience, delivering effective Messages, providing Evidence) is a 36 months project funded by the European Union's 7th Framework Programme for Research, Technological Development and Demonstration. Combining public health, social sciences, behavioral sciences, political sciences, law, ethics, communication and media, TELL ME has developed an original communication strategy and several practical tools in order to respond to major epidemic outbreaks, notably flu pandemics.
One of these products is a prototype interactive E-learning Course to help healthcare professionals to get acquainted with these issues before a new pandemic would occurr. It provides reliable information based on TELL ME research, scientific publications and health authorities (WHO, ECDC, CDC) sources. The contents of the course focus on preventative measures, from hygiene to vaccination, training health professional to convey this information to the public, according to counseling principles and improving their communication skills.
Following the recent spread of Ebola outbreak in Western Africa, we produced a second course, addressed to primary care staff as well, focused on this disease and on how to manage common fears and possible cases in Europe.
The risk of discrimination and stigmatization linked to infectious outbreaks has also been emphasized in both courses, as this is one of TELL ME project peculiarity.
Role of Healthcare Professionals
Among many interesting lessons learnt from the experience of 2009 A (H1N1) pandemic, one is the crucial role of healthcare professional - notably GPs, but also nurses, midwives, health assistants, et cetera - in communication and prevention. They often have strict relationship with patients high levels of credibility and trust from the public. In the analysis made by TELL ME project, their communication needs emerged. Interviewed GPs felt that, when in 2009-2010 patients were alarmed by media communication on the pandemic, they did not have enough information and tools in order to handle people's doubts and give them reliable information, especially about vaccination.
This interactive Online Course allows healthcare professionals to prove themselves in daily situations, after studying 3 documents in which all requested information is included.