5 ways physicians can promote childhood vaccinations to hesitant parents

Anne-Marie Kommers - Print  | 

Although physicians know that vaccines are safe and effective, it can be difficult to communicate that knowledge to worried parents, according to NEPR.

NEPR spoke with researchers and physicians to find out what works and what doesn't in these kinds of conversations.

Five recommendations from the article:

1. Simply announce when a patient is due for vaccination without inviting discussion. This so-called emphatic or presumptive approach is usually the most successful, according to research by Devon Greyson, PhD, a professor of communications at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

2. Avoid talking about side effects. Jennifer Roche, MD, a pediatrician at Amherst Pediatrics, says parents often focus on the most extreme side effects despite their rarity.

3. On the other hand, one patient who spoke with NEPR said she was formerly skeptical of certain vaccines and would have appreciated her physician engaging more in the debate to explain the pros and cons to her.

4. Shaming patients for anti-vaccination views only makes them more likely to hold on to their beliefs, according to Dr. Greyson's research. Instead, physicians should share personal anecdotes about bad cases of vaccine-preventable diseases, or the times they vaccinated their own children.

5. Recognize that 2-5 percent of U.S. parents are strongly against vaccines and are unlikely to change their minds. Invest your time instead in the much larger percentage of parents who have some concerns but don't hold their beliefs firmly.

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