What consumer health reference interview challenges does the author identify? What are some of the solutions to the challenges?
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One challenge that is presented in the article by Deborah Thomas is the fact that the consumer is not a professional healthcare provider and therefore will most likely not know the medical terminology for what they are researching. Figuring out the proper words for their search might be the most difficult thing for a library worker to deal with because they most likely aren’t an expert in the subject either. But doing the research to figure out the proper medical terms for what the patron is looking for is key in helping them find the proper information.
The consumer will most likely also be emotionally involved whereas the healthcare provider will be detached from their research. Because their research is obviously for personal use, whether it is for a friend, family member or themselves, and they are most likely not in a profession where they deal with illness on a daily basis, they might be upset or on edge. This poses a challenge for the library worker because helping someone who is in distress is a difficult thing to do. One doesn’t want to give them information that may upset them but it is their job to provide all the different information available. By providing a relaxing, patient and supportive environment for the upset patron, one can help them in their stressful time.
Another challenge that may present itself is when the consumer brings only half the information needed to the library worker and asks for help to figure out what it means. For example, the consumer may bring a question concerning one specific symptom to the table but that symptom could be evidence of anything from the flu to cancer. Without a proper diagnosis from a doctor, the library worker needs to explain to the patron that they can’t be expected to find a proper and specific answer to their question. The library worker must help as much as possible with finding a solution but also should encourage the patron to look elsewhere for their answer, maybe by asking a healthcare provider for help in narrowing down their search.