Countering vaccine hesitancy: a systematic review of interventions to strengthen healthcare professionals' action

Eur J Public Health. 2023 Oct 10;33(5):905-915. doi: 10.1093/eurpub/ckad134.


Background: Vaccine hesitancy is relevant for healthcare professionals (HCPs) who face challenges in building trusting relationships with patients. Accordingly, the VAX-TRUST project has been developed to improve experiences of HCPs and patients dealing with vaccinations. To support VAX-TRUST, this work aimed to identify latest interventions targeted at HCPs to address hesitancy and increase vaccine uptake.

Methods: A systematic review was conducted according to PRISMA by searching PubMed, Scopus and Embase. The protocol was registered on PROSPERO. Articles were eligible if evaluated interventions directly targeted at HCPs/healthcare students. The search was run on 26 January 2022. Articles published in 2016 or after were included.

Results: A total of 17 492 records were identified; 139 articles were selected. Most articles were set in USA (n = 110). Over half had a pre-post design without a control group (n = 78). A total of 41 articles focused on single-component interventions, 60 on multi-component interventions involving only HCPs and/or students and 38 on multi-component interventions involving also other professionals. Main components were in-person education (n = 76), synchronous (n = 10) and asynchronous (n = 23) online learning, educational materials (n = 26), performance assessment and feedback (n = 33), electronic record changes (n = 30), role play/simulation (n = 21) and online games/apps (n = 5). Educational sessions were mainly about scientific update or communication. Outcomes of interventions were grouped in: vaccination rates (n = 69), knowledge (n = 32), attitudes (n = 26), confidence in counselling (n = 30) and acceptability (n = 16).

Conclusions: Apps, gaming, role play/simulations could represent innovative interventions. This review highlighted the need of delving into communication strategies and using more robust evaluations, longer follow-up and standardized measurements.