Motivational interviewing: A powerful tool to address vaccine hesitancy

Can Commun Dis Rep. 2020 Apr 2;46(4):93-97. doi: 10.14745/ccdr.v46i04a06.


According to the World Health Organization, vaccine hesitancy is among the top threats to global health and few effective strategies address this growing problem. In Canada, approximatively 20% of parents/caregivers are concerned about their children receiving vaccines. Trying to convince them by simply providing the facts about vaccination may backfire and make parents/caregivers even more hesitant. In this context, how can health care providers overcome the challenge of parental decision-making needs regarding vaccination of their children? Motivational interviewing aims to support decision making by eliciting and strengthening a person's motivation to change their behaviour based on their own arguments for change. This approach is based on three main components: the spirit to cultivate a culture of partnership and compassion; the processes to foster engagement in the relationship and focus the discussion on the target of change; and the skills that enable health care providers to understand and address the parent/caregiver's real concerns. With regard to immunization, the motivational interviewing approach aims to inform parents/caregivers about vaccinations, according to their specific needs and their individual level of knowledge, with respectful acceptance of their beliefs. The use of motivational interviewing calls for a respectful and empathetic discussion of vaccination and helps to build a strong relationship. Numerous studies in Canada, including multicentre randomized controlled trials, have proven the effectiveness of the motivational interviewing approach. Since 2018, the PromoVac strategy, an educational intervention based on the motivational interviewing approach, has been implemented as a new practice of care in maternity wards across the province of Quebec through the Entretien Motivationnel en Maternité pour l'Immunisation des Enfants (EMMIE) program.

Keywords: motivational interviewing; parental concerns; vaccine acceptance; vaccine hesitancy; vaccine uptake.