Sources and perceived credibility of vaccine-safety information for parents

Pediatrics. 2011 May:127 Suppl 1:S107-12. doi: 10.1542/peds.2010-1722P. Epub 2011 Apr 18.


Context: The source of health information can have an impact on the manner and frequency of its use. In the arena of vaccine safety, a variety of sources promulgate information from very different perspectives. The spectrum runs from traditional sources such as public health officials and physicians to nontraditional sources, such as celebrities.

Objective: To assess what proportion of parents trust vaccine information from different sources and whether different groups of parents vary in their trust of such information.

Methods: In January 2009, as part of a larger study of parents and nonparents, 2521 online surveys were fielded to a nationally representative sample of parents of children aged ≤ 17 years. The main outcome measure was the source credibility of vaccine-safety information used by parents.

Results: The response rate was 62%. Parents reported trusting their children's doctor for vaccine-safety information most often (76% endorsed a lot of trust), followed by other health care providers (26%), government vaccine experts/officials (23%), and family and friends (15%). In contrast, celebrities were trusted a lot by 2% of the respondents and not at all by 76% of the respondents. Levels of trust in specific sources of vaccine-safety information varied significantly by gender (women > men) and race/ethnicity (Hispanics > other groups).

Conclusions: Although most parents place a lot of trust in their child(ren)'s physician, parents' trust in non-health professional sources for such information should not be discounted. Those who design public health efforts to provide evidence-based information must recognize that different strategies may be required to reach some groups of parents who use other information sources.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Decision Making*
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Health Education
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Parent-Child Relations
  • Parents*
  • Public Health Informatics
  • Safety Management
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Trust
  • United States
  • Vaccination / adverse effects
  • Vaccination / methods
  • Vaccines / administration & dosage
  • Vaccines / adverse effects*


  • Vaccines