May 14, 2018

Online information can improve attitudes toward vaccination

DENVER — 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.

About the Kaiser Permanente Colorado Institute for Health Research

Now in its 25th year, Kaiser Permanente Colorado’s Institute for Health Research (IHR) focuses on epidemiologic, behavioral, and health services research to improve the health and medical care of Kaiser Permanente members and the communities it serves. The IHR publishes and disseminates research to improve prevention and treatment of chronic conditions such as diabetes,  mental health conditions, medication adherence, pediatric  vaccination rates, and  opioid use. The IHR is staffed by more than 120 physicians and health care employees who are dedicated to conducting research that can be translated into clinical practice, health promotion, and policies to influence the health of all Coloradans.

About Kaiser Permanente

Kaiser Permanente is committed to helping shape the future of health care. We are recognized as one of America’s leading health care providers and not-for-profit health plans. Founded in 1945, Kaiser Permanente has a mission to provide high-quality, affordable health care services and to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve. We currently serve more than 12.2 million members in eight states and the District of Columbia. Care for members and patients is focused on their total health and guided by their personal Permanente Medical Group physicians, specialists and team of caregivers. Our expert and caring medical teams are empowered and supported by industry-leading technology advances and tools for health promotion, disease prevention, state-of-the-art care delivery and world-class chronic disease management. Kaiser Permanente is dedicated to care innovations, clinical research, health education and the support of community health.