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Providing parents accurate clinical information about vaccines through a website, and providing access to vaccine experts can help improve parents’ attitudes about vaccinating their children, according to a Kaiser Permanente study published today in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
The 1,093 study participants, who were recruited during pregnancy, were randomly assigned to one of three study groups: website with vaccine information and interactive social media components (or VSM); website with vaccine information only (or VI); or usual care only (UC).
The study team created a website that presented easy-to-understand information on the risks and benefits of vaccination, recommended vaccination schedules, vaccine ingredients and vaccine laws. The investigators also built an interactive social media component within the website that included an expert-moderated blog, discussion forum, chat room and an “Ask a Question” portal where parents could ask experts questions about vaccines.
“It is certainly understandable that some parents have concerns about vaccinating their children because there is a lot of misinformation out there, especially on social media platforms. It is clear there is a need to address parents’ concerns in a convenient, user-friendly forum that they trust,” said Matthew F. Daley, MD, senior investigator at the Kaiser Permanente Colorado Institute for Health Research.
Parents were given a survey to assess their vaccine-related attitudes at three points:
At enrollment in the study
When their child was 3-5 months old
When their child was 12-15 months old
Among the 1,093 study participants, 945 parents completed all three surveys. When comparing the first survey given during pregnancy to the second survey given when their children were 3-5 months of age, parents who were hesitant about vaccinations in the VSM and VI arms reported a significant improvement in attitudes about the benefits of vaccines compared to parents in usual care.
When comparing those parents’ responses in the first survey to the last survey given when their children were 12-15 months of age, the VSM and VI arms again showed a significant reduction in parental concerns about vaccination risks compared to usual care. No effect was observed among parents who were not hesitant about vaccinations at baseline.
This study was funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and conducted by researchers at the Kaiser Permanente Colorado Institute for Health Research.
Additional study authors include: Komal J Narwaney, MPH, PhD, Jo Ann Shoup, PhD, Nicole M Wagner, MPH, and Jason M Glanz, PhD.
Source: Kaiser Permanente