Background: Attempts to maintain or increase vaccination coverage almost all focus on supply side interventions: improving availability and delivery of vaccines. The effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of efforts to increase demand is uncertain.
Methods: We performed a systematic review of studies that provided quantitative estimates of the impact of demand side interventions on uptake of routine childhood vaccination. We retrieved studies published up to Sept 2008.
Results: The initial search retrieved 468 potentially eligible studies, including four systematic reviews and eight original studies of the impact of interventions to increase demand for vaccination. We identified only two randomised controlled trials. Interventions with an impact on vaccination uptake included knowledge translation (KT) (mass media, village resource rooms and community discussions) and non-KT initiatives (incentives, economic empowerment, household visits by extension workers). Most claimed to increase vaccine coverage by 20 to 30%. Estimates of the cost per vaccinated child varied considerably with several in the range of $10-20 per vaccinated child.
Conclusion: Most studies reviewed here represented a low level of evidence. Mass media campaigns may be effective, but the impact depends on access to media and may be costly if run at a local level. The persistence of positive effects has not been investigated. The economics of demand side interventions have not been adequately assessed, but available data suggest that some may be very cost-effective.