Q: What is the HEAR technique?

A:It was developed by the UCSF Center for Excellence in Primary Care to teach vaccine outreach specialists how to engage with people skeptical about the vaccine. We have trained more than 2,500 workers. HEAR stands for:

Hear: Use an open-ended question to invite the person to share their perspective, such as, “What are your thoughts about the vaccine?” Or use reflective listening to show they have been heard. 

Express appreciation: Showing gratitude lets the person know you value their opinion to help develop rapport. 

Ask about pros and cons: “What would be the bad things about getting a vaccine? How about the good things?” Understanding personal motivations can open doors to more discussion.

Respond: Share new information to address concerns and build on reasons they would like to be vaccinated. 

For free resources, see cepc.ucsf.edu.

Q: How does it combat hesitancy? 

A:The HEAR technique is a powerful shift in perspective that draws on 40 years of studies showing arguing is not an effective way to build motivation. The more effective technique is to draw out and build on someone’s intrinsic motivations. Our long-term fight against the SARs-CoV-2 virus depends on people believing in the value of vaccinations and having accurate information about the vaccine. There’s no way around having those one-on-one conversations.