Background: Although science to date indicates no causal relationship between vaccines and autism, some parents still express concern about vaccine safety to their child’s pediatrician. Some parents want to forgo vaccines out of fear of autism and some want to vaccinate according to a timetable that differs from the CDC’s schedule.
Setting: Traditional 2-step communication strategies based on identifying information essential for decision making and formulating a message based on research have been unsuccessful in convincing some parents of the importance of vaccination according to the CDC schedule.
Population: A new 4-step communication framework has been developed for physicians and public health professionals. It starts with the physician seeking to find common ground with the concerned parent and also includes a step that focuses on explaining the physician’s expertise on the subject.
Project Description: The presentation includes specific examples of concerns raised by parents including “I heard on tv that vaccines cause autism”; “Why does my child need to get measles vaccine when no one gets measles anymore”; and “Why can’t I spread out the shots”. It offers sample responses to each concern, utilizing the new framework. Barriers and challenges to implementation are also reviewed.
Results/Lessons Learned: This new framework was presented at the Infectious Diseases Society of America annual conference in October 2009 and at the American Academy of Pediatrics/PCORE NJ conference in November 2009. In both cases, physicians present felt the new framework would be successful in improving communication of vaccine safety information to patients’ parents and would likely increase vaccine uptake, although no formal research on this new communications framework has yet been undertaken.
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