174795 Communicating with Healthcare Workers about Influenza Vaccination: A New Way Forward

Monday, October 27, 2008

Christopher E. Clarke, MS , Department of Communication, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY
Annual influenza vaccination rates among healthcare workers (HCWs) are consistently low (30-40%). Although health officials have devoted considerable effort to increasing these rates – including developing and disseminating pro-vaccine messages - we know relatively little about how providers search for and attend to vaccine information and how this helps inform immunization decisions. In this paper, we apply part of a model of risk information seeking and processing (RISP) to explore linkages among vaccine attitudes, beliefs and vaccine information evaluation tendencies. We conducted in-depth interviews with HCWs in an urban New York community, focusing on current vaccination status, beliefs about the outcomes of immunization, information seeking practices and strategies for interpreting vaccine messages. Most interviewees (82%) were immunized, or intended to be immunized, during the 2006-2007 influenza season. These individuals believed that the vaccine would prevent personal infection, as well as disease transmission to patients, colleagues, family and friends. Non-vaccinated individuals (17%) were concerned about side effects and time constraints, and did not consider themselves at risk for influenza. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and local Department of Health were preferred sources of information. Finally, interviewees were concerned about personal relevance of immunization messages, including whether key vaccine-related concerns and questions were addressed. The paper concludes with implications for vaccine-related risk communication.

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe the two principal methods by which individuals evaluate health information. 2. Discuss the differences between a “top-down” and “bottom-up” strategy for vaccine communication with healthcare workers.

Keywords: Immunizations, Risk Communication

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I conceived of the study, collected all data, assisted with data analysis and authored the final paper.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.