One vaccination message won’t work for everyone and may be counterproductive

This is a phenomena that was suspected in the past but is again confirmed by a study. There are several reasons why parents may be opposed to vaccination. What is the best message and how to deliver it so that mention of vaccinations does not cause a backfire effect?

Featured news – MMR vaccination campaign messages can ‘backfire’, research shows – University of Exeter.

Messages designed to encourage parents to vaccinate their children against measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) can actually have the opposite effect, new research has revealed. Recent outbreaks of measles in the U.S. and Wales have prompted much discussion about highlighting the importance of maintaining high rates of immunisation with the MMR vaccine.

More: Vaccination Messages May Backfire, Study Finds | LiveScience.

In the study, researchers focused on the now-debunked idea that the vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella (or MMR) caused autism. Surveying 1,759 parents, researchers found that while they were able to teach parents that the vaccine and autism were not linked, parents who were surveyed who had initial reservations about vaccines said they were actually less likely to vaccinate their children after hearing the researchers messages.

“The first message of our study is that the messaging we use to promote childhood vaccines may not be effective, and in some cases may be counterproductive,” said Brendan Nyhan, an assistant professor in the department of government at Dartmouth College, who researches misconceptions about health care. “We need more evidence-based messaging about vaccines. We don’t know what works, and we need to learn more, rather than relying on hunches or intuition.”

They use the casual meaning of “scepticism” in this piece, meaning unsure, not that the evidence is being fairly weighed. The influence of misinformation is immense and difficult to counter.

Information about the way tactics can backfire is available in this handy handbook. I highly recommend it. The Debunking Handbook

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  2 comments for “One vaccination message won’t work for everyone and may be counterproductive

  1. BobM
    March 3, 2014 at 11:13 PM

    This is a common and well known phenomenon. People with firmly held beliefs are actually confirmed in the belief by evidence to the contrary. Weird but what can you do?

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