Parental information-seeking behaviour in childhood vaccinations

I.A. Harmsen*, G.G. Doorman, L. Mollema, R.A.C. Ruiter, G. Kok, H.E.R. de Melker

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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BACKGROUND: People want to be well informed and ask for more information regarding their health. The public can use different sources (i.e. the Internet, health care providers, friends, family, television, radio, and newspapers) to access information about their health. Insight into the types and sources of vaccine related information that parents use, and reasons why they seek extra information is needed to improve the existing information supply about childhood vaccinations. METHODS: Dutch parents with one or more children aged 0-4 years received an online questionnaire (N=4,000) measuring psychosocial determinants of information-seeking behaviour and self-reports of types and sources of vaccine information searched for (response rate 14.8%). We also tested two invitation approaches (i.e., reply card versus Internet link in invitation letter) to observe the difference in response rate. RESULTS: Almost half of the parents (45.8%) searched for extra information. Of all the respondents, 13% indicated they had missed some information, particularly about side effects of vaccines (25%). Intention to search for vaccination information was influenced by positive attitude and perceived social norm towards information-seeking behaviour. There was no difference in the response rate between the two invitation approaches. CONCLUSIONS: The information provided by the National Immunization Programme (NIP) might be sufficient for most parents. However, some parents mentioned that they did not receive enough information about side effects of vaccinations, which was also the topic most searched for by parents. Public Health Institutes (PHIs) and child healthcare workers should therefore be aware of the importance to mention this aspect in their communication (materials) towards parents. The PHIs must ensure that their website is easy to find with different search strategies. Since the child healthcare worker is perceived as the most reliable information source, they should be aware of their role in educating parents about the NIP.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1219
Number of pages10
JournalBMC Public Health
Publication statusPublished - 21 Dec 2013


  • Health communication
  • Information need
  • Information seeking
  • Internet
  • Reasoned action approach
  • Vaccination

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