Parent-provider conversations could be key to upping vaccination rates

Parents have various reasons for being hesitant to vaccinate their children, but open and honest conversations between providers and parents may be the key to changing their minds, according to a viewpoint article published in JAMA.

The authors cited a study that found 30 to 47 percent of hesitant parents "may decide to vaccinate their children if clinicians continue to engage them in discussions."

They laid out four broad strategies for how clinicians can broach the subject of immunizations with parents who may be uncertain about whether to vaccinate their children.

Identify common ground. "Because most parents and their clinicians want to keep children safe and healthy, acknowledging this value is an important place to being a conversation," the authors wrote.

Pair evidence with stories. Experts often cite research and statistics when trying to make a point, but "compelling narratives are more memorable than statistics and can be more persuasive than facts alone," according to the authors.

Ask open-ended questions. Open-ended questions like "What concerns you most about vaccinating?" help to build a partnership instead of coming at a vaccine-hesitant parent with judgment.

Provide resources with reliable information. "Having evidence-based online resources can help parents feel more engaged in their health decisions overall," the authors wrote.

"[B]uilding relationships with patients, directly addressing their concerns, and demonstrating confidence about vaccine safety may ultimately lead to improved vaccination rates over time," the article concluded.

More articles on patient engagement:
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Three strategies to improve the patient experience in the emergency department

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