The aim of the study was to determine the frequency of skepticism in relation to vaccination in parents with young children, the impact of demographic variables on skepticism, as well as the frequency of negative sources of information and the strength of their association with skepticism towards vaccination. Efforts were made to determine whether the most common sources of negative vaccination information were at the same time sources of negative information leading to the strongest skepticism.
An online questionnaire distributed by 15 pediatricians from Croatia included a sample of parents with at least one child between the ages of 1 and 4 (N = 333, with a response rate of 96%). The questionnaire was developed by the European Academy of Paediatrics Research in the Outpatient Setting Network (EAPRASnet). In the linear regression analysis, the scale obtained by summing the results to 14 Likert-type items was used as the criterion variable. The sources of negative vaccination information and demographic variables were used as predictor variables.
The arithmetic mean of scores of non-confidence in the safety and efficacy of the vaccine was 27.76 (SD = 6.87; the maximum possible score was 60 indicating higher degree of skepticism, while the lowest possible score was 14). About 13.5% of parents delayed and 6.9% refused to vaccinate their child for reasons other than illness and allergy. Negative vaccination information was received by 81.4% of parents, the most important source being the mass media (43.4%), followed by friends and family members (32.0%), the Internet (22.1%) and healthcare professionals (2. 6%). Health professionals’ impact on the suspicion of vaccines was the strongest (regression coefficient amounts to 9.27 relative to the mass media), followed by friends and family, the Internet, and the mass media. The total number of children was positively correlated (regression coefficient equals 0.15), while age, sex, age of the youngest child, and parental education were not associated with skepticism regarding the safety and efficacy of vaccination.
The results of the research show that it is necessary to distinguish between the frequency and the strength of influence of certain sources of negative vaccination information, that is, although very rarely present as sources of negative information, health workers appear as a particularly powerful influence factor. Friends and family are moderately frequent and moderately strong, the mass media very frequent and very weak, and the Internet moderately frequent and weak source of negative information.
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