Using theoretical constructs to identify key issues for targeted message design: African American seniors' perceptions about influenza and influenza vaccination

Health Commun. 2009 Jun;24(4):316-26. doi: 10.1080/10410230902889258.


African American seniors (65 and older) are less likely to be vaccinated against influenza than are non-Hispanic White seniors. There is a clear need for targeted messages and interventions to address this disparity. As a first step, 6 focus groups of African American seniors (N = 48) were conducted to identify current perceptions about influenza and influenza vaccination. Emergent thematic categories were organized using the 4 main constructs of the extended parallel process model. Susceptibility varied based on perceptions of individual health status, background knowledge, and age-related risk. Some participants saw influenza as a minor nuisance; others viewed it as threatening and potentially deadly. Participants discussed issues related or antecedent to self-efficacy, including vaccine accessibility and affordability. Regarding response efficacy, some participants had confidence in the vaccine, some questioned its preventive ability or believed that the vaccine caused influenza, and others noted expected side effects. Implications and recommendations for message development are discussed.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • African Americans / psychology*
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Influenza Vaccines*
  • Influenza, Human / prevention & control*
  • Male
  • Models, Theoretical*


  • Influenza Vaccines