Belief Correlations with Parental Vaccine Hesitancy

Results from a National Survey

Published in: American Anthropologist, Volume 124, Issue 2, pages 291–306 (June 2022). doi: 10.1111/aman.13714

Posted on RAND.org on August 17, 2022

by Luke J. Matthews, Sarah A. Nowak, Courtney A. Gidengil, Christine Chen, Joe Stubbersfield, Jamshid J. Tehrani, Andrew M. Parker

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We conducted a nationally representative survey of parents' beliefs and self-reported behaviors regarding childhood vaccinations. Using Bayesian selection among multivariate models, we found that beliefs, even those without any vaccine or health content, predicted vaccine-hesitant behaviors better than demographics, social network effects, or scientific reasoning. The multivariate structure of beliefs combined many types of ideation that included concerns about both conspiracies and side effects. Although they are not strongly related to vaccine-hesitant behavior, demographics were key predictors of beliefs. Our results support some of the previously proposed pro-vaccination messaging strategies and suggest some new strategies not previously considered.

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