Training Physicians To Talk About Vaccines Fails To Convince Parents
New research shows that educating doctors on how to talk about vaccines does not change parents' attitudes about vaccinating their children, KQED's "State of Health" reports (Aliferis, "State of Health," KQED, 5/31).
California law currently allows parents to opt out of vaccine requirements for school by first consulting with a licensed health care provider or by claiming religious objections (California Healthline, 3/9).
Details of Study
In a study funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Seattle-based Group Health Foundation, researchers gave health care providers a 45-minute training session on communicating with patients about vaccines. Parents involved in the study received no training ("State of Health," KQED, 5/31).
In a release, Group Health said the study was "the first randomized trial to test an intervention aimed at improving hesitancy about early childhood vaccines by working directly with doctors" (Group Health Foundation release, 5/31).
Parents were put into two groups:
- One group that consulted with providers who had received the vaccine communication training; and
- One group that consulted with providers who did not receive the training.
Researchers found no statistical difference in vaccine hesitancy between the two groups.
According to "State of Health," any decline in vaccine hesitancy during the study period could be attributed to a whooping cough outbreak in Washington or a new law requiring parents to get a note from a physician in order to obtain a vaccine waiver.
In an editorial accompanying the study, Julie Leask, an associate professor at the University of Sydney's School of Public Health, and Paul Kinnersley, a professor at the University of Cardiff's Institute of Medical Education, wrote that the findings indicate a "clear need to develop new approaches to vaccine consultation."
Nora Henrikson, lead author of the study and a research associate at the Group Health Research Institute, said the 45-minute training session might not have been enough. "It's not a bad intervention ... [b]ut a more intense version of it might be able to make a difference," she said.
Henrikson added that future studies should identify ways to "help providers make time for parents who do have more questions and need more time," given that most parents choose to vaccinate their children ("State of Health," KQED, 5/31).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.