Background: The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (DPH) uses radio Public Service Announcements (PSAs) to increase parental awareness of pediatric influenza immunization recommendations. To improve message effectiveness, DPH held discussion groups that assessed parental attitudes toward influenza vaccination, trusted sources of immunization information, and message preferences. The CDC and communications experts recommend such a customer-centered social marketing approach to delivering health information.
Objectives: 1) To ascertain trusted sources of information about pediatric influenza immunizations. 2) To test the effectiveness/appeal of two influenza immunization radio PSAs. 3) To identify effective promotional messages and delivery techniques.
Methods: Six two-hour long English (3) and Spanish (3) discussion groups were conducted with parents of children through 18 years of age and expectant parents. Through semi-structured discussions, participants shared immunization beliefs/practices, media preferences, and feedback on two PSAs. Two surveys captured demographics, sources of immunization information, immunization practices, and message preference.
Results: Forty one individuals (66% Hispanic/Latino, 20% African American/Black) participated in six groups. Only 37% of participants’ children receive a flu vaccine every year. Over ½ of participants had not visited any website for information about childhood immunizations. Among internet visitors, the most frequently visited site was their doctor’s office (70.6%) followed by the California DPH (41%). Participants recommended school newsletters and TV ads as the most effective media for encouraging pediatric flu immunizations. The PSA spokespeople they found most motivating/effective were local doctors and school nurses. 37% of participants indicated that a PSA featuring a family who lost a child to the flu would motivate them more to get their children vaccinated than a DPH message stressing that the CDC, DPH and doctors all recommend pediatric flu vaccines (24%). Conclusions:
Conclusions:Assessing parental immunization attitudes, trusted sources of information, message comprehension/ recall, and preferred delivery is key to developing customer-centered media messages that effectively increase immunization awareness.