Online Program

Applying the health belief model to understand college students' intention to vaccinate against the seasonal influenza: Opportunities for health promotion

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Jennifer M. Kowalsky, PhD, MPH, CHES, Department of Psychology, Ohio University, Athens, OH
Tania B. Basta, PhD, MPH, CHES, Department of Social and Public Health, Ohio University, Athens, OH
Background: Research suggests that very few college students receive the seasonal flu vaccine; however, few studies have assessed college student attitudes and beliefs toward flu vaccination. Therefore, the goal of this study was to develop a measure based on the health belief model to understand college students’ beliefs about the flu vaccine and identify predictors for intention to vaccinate.

Method: College students from across the U.S. were recruited through MTurk, an online system where surveys can be completed for payment.  Participants completed a survey assessing perceived severity and susceptibility for the flu, perceived barriers and benefits of the flu vaccine, cues to action, and intention. 

Results: Exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses, consistent with classical test theory, supported the new measures with good to excellent reliability (α=0.64–0.92) and adequate fit.  Two subscales were identified for perceived barriers (potential risks and process barriers), cues to action (influential others and popular media), perceived severity (severity of the flu and complications of the flu), and perceived susceptibility (susceptibility to the flu and perceived exposure risk).  The multiple linear regression analysis predicted 60.6% of the variance in intention to vaccinate, F(9, 751)=128.23, p<0.001, R2=0.606.  The three strongest predictors included: cues to action - influential others (t(751)=8.96, p<0.001), severity of the flu (t(751)=8.31, p<0.001) and susceptibility to the flu (t(751)=7.34, p<0.001).

Conclusion: Engaging influential others (doctors, nurses) in providing college students cues to get vaccinated, and increasing knowledge and awareness of perceived severity and susceptibility, should be addressed in an effort to increase vaccination rates on college campuses.

Learning Areas:

Communication and informatics
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Public health or related education
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
List the three strongest predictors of college students' intention to vaccinate against the seasonal flu. Discuss the reliability and validity of the new survey developed for use with college students to understand seasonal flu vaccination.

Keyword(s): Immunizations, Health Promotion and Education

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I was responsible for the design and analysis of the study being presented. I have substantial experience with scale development approaches with three peer-reviewed manuscripts detailing the development of measures for use with blood donors. Understanding college students' vaccination intention and behavior to identify opportunities for intervention is a current area of research interest for me.
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.