244369 Understanding parental decisions about childhood vaccination

Monday, October 31, 2011: 11:05 AM

Yelena Baras , History and Sociology of Science, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA
Alison M. Buttenheim, PhD, MBA , School of Nursing, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA
Introduction: Parental concerns about the childhood vaccination schedule and requests for alternative schedules have increased dramatically in recent years. To preserve herd immunity against vaccine-preventable childhood diseases, a nuanced understanding of how and when parents make the vaccination decision is needed. The goal of this study was to understand the context of the vaccination decision (including who is involved and what sources of information are used), and how parents explain their vaccine decisions to others. Methods: Twenty-five parents of children ages 18 months-6 years recruited from an upper-middle class neighborhood in a large northeastern city were interviewed individually or as a couple for approximately 45 minutes about their vaccine decisions. Interviews were recorded and transcribed. A codebook was developed using a grounded theory approach, and relevant themes were extracted from coded transcripts. Results: Three key themes emerged from the interviews: (1) Parents do not identify themselves as “alternative vaccinators” even if their choice of childhood vaccine schedule differs from the recommended ACIP schedule. (2) Parents who do vaccinate according to the recommended schedule remain confused and concerned about vaccines, and are often dissatisfied with the vaccine information they receive from providers or their own research. (3) Parents may articulate a preference for making the vaccine decision based on scientific or “rational” data, but simultaneously identify an emotional or instinctual basis to their decisions.

Conclusions: This study reveals important incongruities between the way parents conceptualize their attitudes and preferences around vaccines and their actual vaccine behavior.

Learning Areas:
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Public health or related education
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Describe relevant themes emerging from qualitative research about parental decision processes around childhood vaccination that can inform clinical and population health interventions to promote herd immunity.

Keywords: Immunizations, Child Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the PI on this study.
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.