Parental beliefs and decision making about child and adolescent immunization: from polio to sexually transmitted infections

J Dev Behav Pediatr. 2005 Dec;26(6):441-52. doi: 10.1097/00004703-200512000-00009.


Over the past 150 years, innovations in immunization practices have dramatically improved the health of children, and parents are increasingly asked to consider and accept new childhood vaccines. We present a conceptual model to frame a review of research on the role of parental attitudes and beliefs in decision making about child and adolescent immunization and describe the historical context of vaccine-related decision-making research. This review focuses on theory-based Social-environmental and parent-specific personal factors as potential influences on vaccine decision making. Relevant Social-environmental issues discussed include media coverage of vaccines, perceived social norms, and the persuasive influence of peer groups. Health care provider recommendations are presented as an exemplar of factors related to the family's interface with the health care system. Personal factors addressed include parental health beliefs, attitudes, and knowledge related to vaccine preventable diseases and immunization, as well as cognitive heuristics that are employed in the decision-making process (e.g., omission bias, protected values, framing of information). Last, promising directions for research and suggestions for clinical practice are presented.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Behavioral Research
  • Child
  • Decision Making*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Immunization*
  • Models, Psychological
  • Parents / psychology*
  • Poliomyelitis / prevention & control
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases / prevention & control