BackgroundPaediatrician recommendations are known to influence parental vaccine decisions.AimOur aim was to examine vaccination knowledge, attitudes and practices among paediatricians in Italy and identify factors associated with their confidence in addressing parental questions.MethodsAn electronic questionnaire survey was conducted from February to March 2016, among a sample of Italian paediatricians.ResultsThe survey was completed by 903 paediatricians (mean age: 56 years). Of 885 who responded to the specific question, 843 (95.3%) were completely favourable to vaccinations. Sixty-six per cent (570/862) felt sufficiently knowledgeable about vaccinations and vaccine-preventable diseases to confidently discuss them with parents. Paediatricians who were male, who were 55 years or older, who had participated in training courses in the last 5 years, who reported that taking courses and reading the scientific literature had contributed to their knowledge, or who had implemented vaccination promotion activities, felt more knowledgeable than other paediatricians. When asked to rate their level of agreement with statements about vaccine safety and effectiveness, only 8.9% (80/903) responded fully as expected. One third (294/878) did not systematically verify that their patients are up to date with the immunisation schedule. Only 5.4% (48/892) correctly identified all true and false contraindications.ConclusionsThe majority of paediatricians in Italy are favourable to vaccination but gaps were identified between their overall positive attitudes and their knowledge, beliefs and practices. Targeted interventions are needed aimed at increasing paediatricians' confidence in addressing parents' concerns, strengthening trust towards health authorities and improving systems barriers.
Keywords: attitudes; hesitancy; knowledge; paediatricians; practices; vaccinations.