Impact of educational interventions on adolescent attitudes and knowledge regarding vaccination: A pilot study

PLoS One. 2018 Jan 19;13(1):e0190984. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0190984. eCollection 2018.


Background: Current immunisation levels in England currently fall slightly below the threshold recommended by the World Health Organization, and the three-year trend for vaccination uptake is downwards. Attitudes towards vaccination can affect future decisions on whether or not to vaccinate, and this can have significant public health implications. Interventions can impact future vaccination decisions, and these interventions can take several forms. Relatively little work has been reported on the use of vaccination interventions in young people, who form the next generation of individuals likely to make vaccination decisions.

Method: We investigated the impact of two different types of educational intervention on attitudes towards vaccination in young people in England. A cohort of young people (n = 63) was recruited via a local school. This group was divided into three sub-groups; one (n = 21) received a presentation-based intervention, one (n = 26) received an interactive simulation-based intervention, and the third (n = 16) received no intervention. Participants supplied information on (1) their attitudes towards vaccination, and (2) their information needs and views on personal choice concerning vaccination, at three time points: immediately before and after the intervention, and after six months.

Results: Neither intervention had a significant effect on participants' attitudes towards vaccination. However, the group receiving the presentation-based intervention saw a sustained uplift in confidence about information needs, which was not observed in the simulation-based intervention group.

Discussion: Our findings with young people are consistent with previous work on vaccination interventions aimed at adults, which have shown limited effectiveness, and which can actually reduce intention to vaccinate. Our findings on the most effective mode of delivery for the intervention should inform future discussion in the growing "games for health" domain, which proposes the use of interactive digital resources in healthcare education.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Female
  • Health Education*
  • Humans
  • Knowledge*
  • Male
  • Pilot Projects
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Vaccination / psychology*

Grant support

KC was supported by a Ph.D. studentship from the Faculty of Science and Engineering, Manchester Metropolitan University. The development of SimFection was supported by a grant to JV from the Society for Applied Microbiology. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.