HSC students create evidence-based fact sheets about monkeypox

As a former faculty member at UT Health San Antonio, Dr. Waridibo Allison’s Department of Medicine produced evidence-based information sheets based on the then-new COVID-19 virus. The information helped health professionals stay current and separate myth from reality, and the document was researched and written by medical students and reviewed by faculty.

Allison now is using a similar model at The University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth, where she serves as vice president of health policy and director for the Center for Health Policy.

The Monkeypox Rapid Resources and Evidence-Based Advisory Program is a series of evidence-based quick-reference fact sheets for health professionals, who continue to compete with social media and cable news misinformation about the virus. Students across the breadth of health professions and disciplines led the effort under the guidance of faculty members. The four sheets are separated into sections covering the epidemiology and general information, clinical presentation, the diagnostics and treatment of the virus.

“When there is a public health emergency, concise, accurate, evidence-based information is critically important,” Allison said. “Providing this kind of information about monkeypox is what we aimed to do. We heavily involved HSC health profession students because we trusted their ability to do this and do it well. It also gave a mechanism for them do something tangible in this space for both the HSC community and the community we serve.”

The target audience for the Monkeypox RREAP is the broadest possible definition of health care workers. The information is not written in a style that many members of the public can easily understand. It is written for health care workers — but not just clinicians or physicians. The information sheets can be helpful for the front office person at a clinic who has to answer basic questions or an infectious disease specialist who needs a recap of the most recent research or news surrounding the virus.

To recruit students, Allison — who also heads the National Rural Telementoring Training Center and TAKE on HIV for Health Professions Programs, in addition to serving as associate professor for HSC’s Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine’s Department of Internal Medicine and Geriatrics — teamed up with Dr. Crystal Hodge, assistant professor of pharmacotherapy at HSC’s College of Pharmacy. The response from the student body was overwhelming. More than 60 students almost immediately expressed interest.

One of those students, Justin Chaves, a student in HSC’s physician assistant studies program, led the clinical presentation student team.

“I primarily wanted to join this group effort because of my interest in infectious disease as well as public health,” he said. “Additionally, I was aware of the amount of conflicting information concerning monkeypox at the time, and I was interested in finding out the facts on my own and potentially sharing those findings with others.

“Under the guidance of Dr. Allison, the team and I reviewed both current and past literature concerning the clinical presentation of monkeypox,” he continued. “In addition to being a great exercise in interdisciplinary teamwork, I think our unique perspectives as students of medicine served as an ideal lens to condense the existing monkeypox literature into the key points such that it be digestible to any person regardless of health care experience.”

Information about the Monkeypox RREAP and the documents are housed on the HSC Center for Health Policy website. Drs Allison and Hodge hope that public health authorities and health care organizations will find the information sheets useful to supplement information they provide.

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