There are 4 types of anti-vaccine messages, study finds

A study published in Vaccine found that anti-vaccination discourse doesn't always center on autism, and instead has four distinct themes.

Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh Center for Research on Media, Technology, and Health analyzed comments made on a Facebook video posted by Kids Plus Pediatrics, a Pittsburgh-based pediatric practice, that urged HPV vaccinations. They examined the profiles of 197 commenters, who were randomly selected. The commentators were from 36 states and eight countries, and a majority were mothers.

The four distinct themes that emerged were:

• Trust — the commentators did not trust the scientific community and were worried about their personal liberty.
• Alternatives — the commentators touted alternatives to vaccines, such as homeopathic remedies, and cited concerns about chemicals in vaccines.
• Safety — the commentators noted perceived risks and concerns regarding the morality of vaccination.
• Conspiracy — the commentators cited government-led conspiracies, stating that the government and other entities hide information that the commentators believe to be facts.

The study can also help pediatricians more effectively approach and speak with parents who do not want to vaccinate their children.

"For example, telling someone in the 'trust' subgroup that vaccines don't cause autism may alienate them because that isn't their concern to begin with," said Beth Hoffman, a graduate student at the Center for Research on Media, Technology, and Health and leader of the study. "Instead, it may be more effective to find common ground and deliver tailored messages related to trust and the perception mandatory vaccination threatens their ability to make decisions for their child."

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