Background: Continued parental acceptance of childhood vaccination is essential for the maintenance of herd immunity and disease prevention. As such, understanding parents' decision-making in relation to their children's vaccinations is vitally important.
Objective: This qualitative study sought to develop an understanding of the general process parents go through when making decisions about their children's vaccinations.
Methods: Interviews were conducted with U.S.-born parents living in King County, Washington who had children ≤18 months of age. These interviews were recorded and transcribed verbatim.
Results: Through the application of grounded theory, a general decision-making process was identified. Stages in this process included: awareness, assessing and choosing, followed by either stasis or ongoing assessment. The greatest variation occurred during the assessing stage, which involved parents examining vaccination-related issues to make subsequent decisions. This research suggests that three general assessment groups exist: acceptors, who rely primarily on general social norms to make their vaccination decisions; reliers, who rely primarily on other people for information and advice; and searchers, who seek for information on their own, primarily from published sources.
Conclusions: These results imply that one-size-fits-all approaches to vaccination interventions are inappropriate. Instead, this research suggests that interventions must be targeted to parents based on how they assess vaccination.
Keywords: Decision-making; Parents; Qualitative research; VPD; Vaccination; vaccine preventable diseases.
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