The framing of the parent-targeted messages about benefits of vaccination for their children seems to influence their intentions to immunize their children. In a study designed to formally look at the content of parent-targeted communications about the benefits of vaccination for measles, mumps and rubella, Indiana University School of Medicine investigators report this.
The investigators report that parents who viewed informational material highlighting direct benefits to their own child were the most likely to subsequently indicate that they would have their baby vaccinated for MMR, short for measles, mumps and rubella (German measles).
"Vaccine Message Framing and Parents' Intent to Immunize Their Infants for MMR" appears online in advance of publication in the September issue of the peer-reviewed journal Pediatrics
, a publication of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Led by social psychologist and pediatric health services researcher Kristin S. Hendrix, Ph.D., the study authors conducted a national online survey of 802 parents of infants younger than 12 months to determine their willingness to have their child vaccinated for MMR. The first MMR vaccine is recommended at 12 months. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the safety record of the MMR vaccine is very good. Measles is the most deadly of all childhood rash/fever illnesses and very easily transmitted, making it a significant public health threat, as evident in multiple outbreaks in recent months. Vaccination is by far the best tool for prevention.
"If we are going to increase childhood vaccine acceptance, we need to communicate more effectively about the benefits of vaccines, to help parents feel that they are making a more informed decision," said Dr. Hendrix, an assistant professor of pediatrics and a Regenstrief Institute and IU Center for Bioethics affiliated scientist.
The study tested various communications about the benefits of MMR vaccination. Each parent was given one of four messages and was instructed to keep his or her infant in mind when responding to the information:
1: Standard information statement from the Centers for Disease Control describing MMR and the MMR vaccine, including who should receive the vaccine, when they should receive it, contraindications, vaccine risks and what to do in the event of a serious reaction to the vaccine.
2: CDC information statement plus additional information highlighting the MMR vaccine's direct benefits to the child receiving the vaccine.
3: CDC information statement plus additional information highlighting the MMR vaccine's benefits to society at large.
4: CDC information statement plus additional information highlighting the MMR vaccine's direct benefits to the child receiving the vaccine as well as benefits to society at large.