Lesson From Dr. Oz for IDs

April 17, 2011

An important lesson can be drawn from a recent Dr. Oz show for Instructional Designers.

I was watching Dr. Oz this week. He had a panel of medical professionals on who wanted to convince viewers they didn’t need to ask for thyroid guards when they got Mammograms. It seemed the opposing argument really came down to the fact this “gives technicians one more thing to do” and sometimes might interfere with the image causing the mammogram to have to be redone.

I watched for a half hour as Dr. Oz asked leading question after leading question as to why they even have the guards to provide patients. After about a half hour, one doctor finally conceded it was because patients asked for them. Dr. Oz raised his hands and said, “Hallelujah! That’s it!” and went on to explain that if patients are worried that they can get thyroid cancer from the excess radiation, then they need those fears heard and addressed or they won’t get mammograms – whether it’s true or not. The medical professionals still didn’t get it though.

At this point, Dr. Oz gets more intense, trying to explain that we don’t really know how 10 years from now the relation between thyroid cancer risk and radiation from mammograms might turn out, so as long as patients are worried, those worries must be addressed. They still didn’t get it. They continued to try and convince the audience there was no danger.

The lesson is this: it doesn’t really matter if an instructional designer’s client’s perception of what he or she needs is right or not – if it has a strong feeling attached to it (especially fear), then it needs to be heard and addressed as a legitimate concern.

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