A new study by researchers from the University of Michigan shows that most parents get their information about vaccines from their child’s doctor, but that some also listen to public health officials, other parents, friends, family and even celebrities.
In a new study published in the journal Pediatrics, researchers determined how much parents trust different sources of information when it comes to vaccines. It is believed that this information can then be used in an effort to determine what disseminating methods would be most effective in providing evidence-based information to parents.
“We know from this national study that parents get information about children’s vaccines from many sources,” Gary L. Freed, professor of pediatrics at the University of Michigan, said. “But the source trusted most by parents for vaccine-safety information is their children’s doctor, which is consistent with the results of several previous studies.
“Researchers surveyed over 1,500 parents of children under the age of 17. The parents were asked to rate their degree of trust in sources of vaccine information as “a lot,” “some,” or “none.”
The majority of parents – 76 percent – surveyed indicated that they trusted their child’s doctor “a lot.” Health care providers were trusted “a lot” 26 percent of the time and government vaccine experts were trusted “a lot” 23 percent of the time. Family and friends were trusted “some” by 67 percent of respondents, and parents who believe their child was harmed by a vaccine were trusted “some” by 65 percent of respondents. Celebrities were trusted “a lot” for vaccine-safety information by two percent of the respondents and “some” by 24 percent.
“Those who design public health efforts to provide evidence-based information must recognize that different strategies may be required to reach all groups of parents,” Freed said. “Even if only a fraction of parents receive, believe, and act on misinformation about vaccine safety provided by these different sources, individual children’s health and the population’s health may suffer because of vaccine preventable illnesses.”