“I’m finding that in my practice, people are so tired," one Pittsburgh-area doctor said.By Dr. Maria Simbra

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The closeness of the election has raised the question for the public health field — where does it go from here?

“We’re not trying to change political beliefs, we’re trying to keep people from dying,” says Dr. Amy Crawford-Faucher of Allegheny Health Network Family Medicine.

In the primary care office, doctors hear how weary people are of the messages to mask, distance and wash hands.

“I’m finding that in my practice, people are so tired. They’re so tired and they’re so anxious. It’s not just the pandemic, but the other things going on in our world,” she says.

Only 14 percent of Republican voters in exit polls said the pandemic was a deciding factor, whereas 82 percent of Democrats said the pandemic was the top issue.

“This sort of disparate philosophies is not helping,” says Dr. Crawford-Faucher. “Those kinds of numbers also reflect that people have other concerns and other beliefs and other motivations.”

What doesn’t work is harping at people.

“What we know for sure doesn’t work is to say, why can’t you just be smarter and listen to us and believe us and do what we say to do? That doesn’t help in anything we’re trying to accomplish,” Dr. Crawford-Faucher says.

One new direction to pivot might be partnering with people who understand the science and have credibility in reluctant circles. Another idea is listening sessions with skeptics and asking them to brainstorm solutions.

“Maybe finding people within communities that you’re trying to reach, that you can forge a connection with, who may have more trust within that particular group,” says Dr. Crawford-Faucher. “I think listening, tell me what your concerns are, what are your perspectives, what are your thoughts, and I want to hear. I want to hear your ideas.”

She likens the conversation to the ones she has daily with her patients about getting flu shots and quitting cigarettes.

“If I can affect my patient’s decision-making and maybe their family and small group of friends, that’s a win,” she says. “I believe this is not hopeless. Either the pandemic or the ability to find some common ground.”

Dr. Maria Simbra