Parental Decision-Making on Childhood Vaccination

Kaja Damnjanovic*, Johanna Graeber, Sandra Ilic, Wing Y. Lam, Zan Lep*, Sara Morales, Tero Pulkkinen, Loes Vingerhoets

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

55 Citations (Web of Science)


A growing number of parents delay vaccinations or are deciding not to vaccinate their children altogether. This increases the risk of contracting vaccine-preventable diseases and disrupting herd immunity, and also impairs the trust in the capacities of health care systems to protect people. Vaccine hesitancy is related to a range of both psychological and demographic determinants, such as attitudes toward vaccinations, social norms, and trust in science. Our aim is to understand those determinants in parents, because they are a special group in this issue-they act as proxy decision makers for their children, who are unable to decide for themselves. The fact that deciding to vaccinate is a socially forced choice that concerns a child's health makes vaccine-related decisions highly important and involving for parents. This high involvement might lead to parents overemphasizing the potential side effects that they know to be vaccine-related, and by amplifying those, parents are more focused on the potential outcomes of vaccine-related decisions, which can yield specific pattern of the outcome bias. We propose two related studies to investigate factors which promote vaccine hesitancy, protective factors that determine parental vaccination decisions, and outcome bias in parental vaccination intentions. We will explore demographic and psychological factors, and test parental involvement related to vaccine hesitancy using an online battery in a correlation panel design study. The second study is an experimental study, in which we will investigate the moderating role of parents' high involvement in the specific domain of vaccination decision making. We expect that higher involvement among parents, compared to non-parents, will shape the pattern of the proneness to outcome bias. The studies will be conducted across eight countries in Europe and Asia (Finland, Germany, Hong Kong, the Netherlands, Serbia, Slovenia, Spain, and the United Kingdom), rendering findings that will aid with understanding the underlying mechanisms of vaccine hesitancy and paving the way for developing interventions custom-made for parents.
Original languageEnglish
Article number735
Number of pages14
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Publication statusPublished - 13 Jun 2018


  • vaccine
  • involvement
  • vaccine hesitancy
  • immunization
  • health decisions
  • decision-making
  • parents
  • outcome bias

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