HealthDay News — For Black and Latinx participants, watching public health video messages recorded by a diverse set of physicians reduces COVID-19 knowledge gaps, according to a study published online December 21 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Marcella Alsan, MD, MPH, PhD, from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and colleagues conducted a randomized trial in the United States from May 13 to 26, involving 14,267 self-identified Black or Latinx adults (61.3 and 38.7%, respectively). The participants viewed 3 video messages relating to COVID-19, which varied by race/ethnicity of the physician, acknowledgement of racism/inequality, and community perceptions relating to mask wearing and then answered questions, or they answered questions and then viewed the videos. Knowledge gaps (number of errors on 7 facts relating to COVID-19 symptoms and prevention) and information-seeking behaviors were measured.

The researchers found that the intervention reduced the incidence of knowledge gap from 0.085 to 0.065 (incidence rate ratio [IRR], 0.737) but did not have a significant effect on the incidence of information seeking. Messages from race/ethnic-concordant physicians increased information-seeking incidence among Black participants, from 0.329 (for discordant physicians) to 0.357 (IRR, 1.085).

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“The findings provide evidence that, especially in a moment when a novel human-to-human virus is disproportionately affecting communities of color, a diverse physician workforce can be an effective channel to communicate life-saving information,” the authors write.

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