Date of Conferral

2015

Degree

Ph.D.

School

Public Health

Advisor

Jack Nemecek

Abstract

Parentsâ?? refusal to immunize their children with the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine has resulted in a surge of measles outbreaks in the United States. The purpose of this correlational study was to examine the relationships between parental knowledge and trust of the MMR vaccine, and their trust in government and medical authorities. The theoretical foundation for this study was the health belief model (HBM). This study determined if there was any relationship between general trust in doctors/governments (i.e., the predictor variable) and attitudes toward MMR vaccine (i.e., the sole dependent variable), and whether gender, age group, or level of education moderated that general trust. A Survey Monkey subscriber database and researcher-developed survey was used to identify and email 2,500 parents of immunization-aged children, resulting in 237 respondents who met the required parameters. The analysis revealed a significant, positive relationship between the criterion and predictor variables, R = .32, R2 = .10, F(1, 235) = 26.39, p. < .001, regardless of gender, age, or education, suggesting an association between higher trust and greater likelihood of a parent allowing vaccination. This study offers significant insights for positive social change by providing pediatricians, primary health care providers, and vaccine educators, with information for communicating with vaccine-hesitant parents: It is not enough to address parental concerns of vaccine safety, efficacy, and necessity. It is also not enough to provide evidence-based scientific data, as doing so has been proven to be ineffectiveâ??and for some parents counter-productiveâ??when government and medical authorities are sited as the source. What we need to do is start focusing upon the role of parental trust, including how to best establish that trust, and equally important, what steps are necessary to sustain that trust.

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