Research Output

(Mis)Communication and context for childhood vaccinations: a role for critical health psychology?

  Background: The promotion of childhood vaccinations is complex in the literature. Vaccination is important to ensure protection from infectious diseases but in developed countries rates for vaccinations have fallen in recent years. The Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) controversy in the UK undermined public confidence and the communication of risk remains a challenging area. There is also limited understanding about local barriers to vaccination and much traditional research focused on one-off survey designs. Aims: To explore potential barriers and facilitators for childhood vaccinations amongst parents and health professionals in Edinburgh where health services are varied. Methods: An initial profile exercise was conducted using qualitative semi-structured interviews and focus groups with parents and health staff in Edinburgh. Thematic analysis was used to identify key themes within and across the data. Findings: Three emergent themes which implicated miscommunication about vaccinations were relevant: lay health beliefs which conflicted with health advice, communication and rapport between lay-professional and across professionals and the relevance of wider organisational issues in the health services. Negative past experiences with the health services influenced future vaccination decisions for parents. Conclusion: A contextual consideration of vaccination experiences is relevant for health services and the wider literature which has tended to focus on such decisions in isolation and supports ethnographic work elsewhere (Poltorak et al, 2005). These initial findings have relevance for other national vaccination campaigns in Scotland and also for critical health psychological understandings in risk (mis)communication and the challenges associated with vaccine promotion once trust has been affected.

  • Date:

    08 July 2009

  • Publication Status:



Kennedy, C., Gray Brunton, C. & Hogg, R. (2009). (Mis)Communication and context for childhood vaccinations: a role for critical health psychology?



Childhood Vaccinations, (Mis)Communication, Context, Critical Health Psychology

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