Study offers new clues about why some parents are against vaccinating their kids

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(Medical Xpress)—A team of researchers affiliated with multiple institutions in the U.S. has found a possible new explanation of some parents' reluctance to have their children vaccinated. In their paper published in the journal Nature Human Behavior, the group describes their study, what they found and why they believe they may have discovered a new way to change the minds of parents who are reluctant to have their children vaccinated.

Vaccinating has been in the news the past few years as some parents have become concerned about possible side effects. Some parents have believe that vaccines may cause autism. Such claims have been taken seriously by health scientists, and studies have been conducted to find out if they may be true. To date, no evidence has found the claims to be true, but there still exists a group of people who are reluctant or refuse to have their children vaccinated. In this new effort, the researchers have taken a new look at the problem to better understand their reasons in the hope that a new approach might be developed to overcome their concerns.

To learn more, the researchers sent out surveys to 1000 adults who had at least one child aged 12 or younger. The parents were asked to rate themselves on six basic : fairness, authority, loyalty, harm, purity and liberty. The values were taken from Moral Foundations Theory, which cultural and social psychologists have developed to chart moral values across common cultures. Each of the parents was also asked questions to learn more about their attitudes towards vaccinating children.

In studying the survey results, the researchers found that 73 percent of the parents who responded had few concerns about vaccinations, while approximately 11 percent scored as hesitant and 16 percent as highly hesitant. But the team also found something else, those parents with a medium amount of hesitancy were much more likely to highly value purity as a moral value. And those parents with a high degree of hesitancy were much more likely to rate both purity and liberty as highly valued moral values—they were also less likely to rate authority as a high moral value.

The suggest their results indicate that efforts to change the minds of concerned by health workers might work better if they phrased their message in ways that took relevant moral values into consideration.

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Parents' reasons for not vaccinating children influence public attitudes toward them

More information: Avnika B. Amin et al. Association of moral values with vaccine hesitancy, Nature Human Behaviour (2017). DOI: 10.1038/s41562-017-0256-5

Clusters of unvaccinated children are particularly susceptible to outbreaks of vaccine-preventable disease1,2. Existing messaging interventions demonstrate short-term success, but some may backfire and worsen vaccine hesitancy3. Values-based messages appeal to core morality, which influences the attitudes individuals then have on topics like vaccination4,5,6,7. We must understand how underlying morals, not just attitudes, differ by hesitancy type to develop interventions that work with individual values. Here, we show in two correlational studies that harm and fairness foundations are not significantly associated with vaccine hesitancy, but purity and liberty foundations are. We found that medium-hesitancy parents were twice as likely as low-hesitancy parents to highly emphasize purity (adjusted odds ratio: 2.08; 95% confidence interval: 1.27–3.40). High-hesitancy respondents were twice as likely to strongly emphasize purity (adjusted odds ratio: 2.15; 95% confidence interval: 1.39–3.31) and liberty (adjusted odds ratio: 2.19; 95% confidence interval: 1.50–3.21). Our results demonstrate that endorsement of harm and fairness—ideas often emphasized in traditional vaccine-focused messages—are not predictive of vaccine hesitancy. This, combined with significant associations of purity and liberty with hesitancy, indicates a need for inclusion of broader themes in vaccine discussions. These findings have the potential for application to other health decisions and communications as well.

Journal information: Nature Human Behaviour

© 2017 Medical Xpress

Citation: Study offers new clues about why some parents are against vaccinating their kids (2017, December 6) retrieved 21 July 2019 from
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User comments

Dec 06, 2017
Watch the movie 'Vaxxed' to see the complicity of the CDC in destroying data to "prove" vaccine safety. Also, if vaccines are so safe why is it up to the taxpayers to foot the bill when people suffer side effects from vaccination via Vaccine Court. This is akin the the tobacco companies lobbying Congress to create a special legal system to award emphysema and cancer sufferers when they are afflicted.
The pharmaceutical companies love when parents poison their kids because it creates a lifelong customer.

Dec 06, 2017
Too bad the researchers couldn't include delusional paranoia in the study.

Dec 06, 2017
Barakn employs the same tactics used by the tobacco companies. I avoided poisoning my kid and he's perfectly healthy, you on the other hand not so much. How's it working for you?

Dec 06, 2017
It's working great. I've never gotten polio, measles, mumps, rubella, small pox, or tetanus. And vaccines are working great for your kid too. The little parasite is a beneficiary of the herd immunity that vaccines provide to society as a whole.

Dec 06, 2017
Talk about paranoid delusion, you're more likely to win 100k in the lottery than getting measles in a given year. And that likelihood doesn't change whether or not one is vaccinated as typically half of the yearly cases are from the actual parasites who are poisoned with these pathogens that would otherwise not be present.
In addition, my son also isn't "special" nor does he have to ride the short bus.

Dec 06, 2017
The AltRight claim "We're not dead yet. So we must be doing something right?" Is the basis of the old con artist trick of making two lists of suckers. Tell one list to buy and one list to sell.

The list that made a profit is then divided into two lists, to buy or sell. The losing list is sold to other bunco artists for their own scams.

Rinse and repeat. Finally you are down to the last gullible sap who will swear that the crook can do no wrong with their genius advice.

That's when the poor dear is cleaned out of all those illusory profits along with all their assets that could be liquidated.

Perfect training for RNC/WH maleficent reprobates.

Dec 06, 2017
The arrogant dismissiveness and oversimplification with which this topic is often address only heightens the controversy. There is clearly NOT ZERO RISK. BUT they just KEEP preaching 'no evidence of autism' etc. I'm not making ANY specific claims about specific side effects of any specific vax or vax schedule. BUT to be so casually dismissive of the risk of side effects is IRRESPONSIBLE to the public in general. IF they would actual phrase is in a reasonable way...fat chance it seems. I makes me, for one, angry.

Dec 06, 2017
If they stopped putting mercury (which is self explanatory) and aluminum (which travels to and is stored in the brain) in the damn things and they'd have a whole lot less opposition to them.

"Don't like filling your children with heavy metals? Then you're a white male redneck racist nazi, and should be sent to prison." - An intellectual leftist


Wouldn't be surprised if these shots were inducing a malfunction of the body's normal reaction to aluminum, causing it to actively store far more than typical. Interestingly, it seems like large doses at once are less harmful than lots of small doses, at least in the short term.

Dec 07, 2017
Talk about paranoid delusion, you're more likely to win 100k in the lottery than getting measles in a given year.
Ummm... thanks for proving my point? "IIn the decade before 1963 when a vaccine became available, nearly all children got measles by the time they were 15 years of age. It is estimated 3 to 4 million people in the United States were infected each year. Also each year an estimated 400 to 500 people died, 48,000 were hospitalized, and 4,000 suffered encephalitis (swelling of the brain) from measles. ... Measles was declared eliminated (absence of continuous disease transmission for greater than 12 months) from the United States in 2000. This was thanks to a highly effective vaccination program in the United States, as well as better measles control in the Americas region." https://www.cdc.g...ory.html

Dec 07, 2017
Too bad the researchers couldn't include delusional paranoia in the study.

In essence, they did. Whenever I see "purity" as a concern I automatically think along the lines of those guys who have their daughters swear to keep their virginity until daddy says its OK to give it to a man of his choice. Like those straight people who get all fluffed up about gay people (pun intended), the other side of the coin is some kind of ickiness factor where inserting foreign bodies into your own, or your children's skin generates intense feelings of revulsion. Bizarrely, watching their kids suffer and die from preventable diseases never seems to enter their imaginary world.

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