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.