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Study Examines How Discussion With Pediatrician Affects Parent's Decision to Vaccinate

11/4/2013 For Release: November 4, 2013

How a health care provider talks with parents about their child’s vaccines can affect whether the parent chooses to vaccinate, according to a study in the December 2013 issue of Pediatrics. For the study, “The Architecture of Provider-Parent Vaccine Discussions at Health Supervision Visits,” published online Nov. 4, researchers videotaped and analyzed 111 vaccine discussions during a child’s check-up visit involving 16 pediatric providers in the Seattle area. Parents also filled out a questionnaire that assessed their level of hesitancy toward vaccines. Most providers – 74 percent – brought up vaccine recommendations during the check-up with language that presumed parents would immunize their child (eg, “Well, we have to do some shots”). Some providers used more participatory language that gave more decision-making latitude to parents (eg, “What do you want to do about shots?”). Among all parents, a larger proportion resisted the pediatric provider’s vaccine recommendations when the provider initiated the vaccine discussion using participatory versus presumptive language (83 percent versus 26 percent). When parents resisted vaccines, half of the providers responded by emphasizing their original recommendations, and 47 percent of initially resistant parents then accepted the recommendations. The study authors conclude that additional research with a more diverse population of patients and providers is needed to confirm the findings, but that the study highlights the importance of how health care providers discuss vaccines with parents in influencing parent acceptance of childhood vaccines.

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The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 60,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. For more information, visit www.aap.org.