When addressing patient-held medical misinformation, providers should avoid simply telling a patient they are wrong, only offering corrective information, or not treating the patient’s beliefs as worthy of time or respect. Such approaches are largely ineffective and can even be counterproductive, further grounding patients in their existing beliefs. Rather, providers should initiate an empathetic and collaborative dialogue where they seek to understand what patients believe, why they believe it, and how they can best support the patient in making health-promotive decisions as a trusted partner.
The “Three C’s” are guiding principles for holding such conversations with patients. Within each of the three steps, we’ve included tips or specific strategies to support providers as they create space for these potentially uncomfortable, yet worthwhile conversations.