Date of Conferral

2016

Degree

Ph.D.

School

Public Health

Advisor

Chinaro Kennedy

Abstract

Black Americans experience influenza vaccination rates that are lower than the rates of other ethnic groups. Low influenza vaccination rates among the Black community are associated with higher influenza infection rates, influenza-related hospitalizations, and higher influenza mortality rates. There is a belief within the Black American community that the medical establishment does not have the Black American patient in its best interest, leading to feelings of distrust. The purpose of this study was to determine if the distrust of the medical community is a relevant factor in the low influenza vaccination rates of Black Americans aged 18 and older in Baltimore, Maryland. The study also examined the belief that the influenza vaccine causes the flu and the effect this belief may have on influenza vaccination rates. The public health critical race theory served as the framework for the study. Previously validated survey instruments, the Health Care System Distrust Scale and the Adult Influenza Immunization Survey, were obtained with permission and used to collect data from the members of a Baltimore city church. The study used chi-square analysis, multivariable logistic regression, and narrative discussion to address the research questions and analyze the data of 105 completed surveys. Results of the study determined that distrust of the medical community was not a relevant factor in the influenza vaccination rates of study participants, and that participants' vaccination status was influenced by factors other than distrust. Implications for social change included improving the influenza vaccination rate among Black Americans and decreasing their influenza mortality rates.