Using “Presumptive” Language Improves Vaccination Rates among Resistant Parents

February 25, 2015 | Strategic Insights for Health System


Reframing discussions about vaccination as "presumptive" is a highly effective technique to improve vaccination rates among parents who are concerned about vaccinating their children, suggests a February 9, 2015, Wall Street Journalarticle. Pediatricians may have a greater impact on parental decisions to vaccinate children than public health messages educating parents with scientific information intended to refute myths about the safety of vaccines. For example, one study of almost 1,800 parents found that public health messages about the safety of vaccines successfully refuted misperceptions about vaccine safety, but they also reduced parents' intent to vaccinate. Interventions designed to raise awareness about the dangers posed by communicable diseases (such as showing images of sick children and providing a narrative about an infant in danger) actually increased parents' belief in serious side effects and a link between vaccines and autism. Another study of 111 patient discussions found that the way pediatricians talk about vaccination has a significant impact on parents' likelihood to vaccinate.

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