Jump to:  A   |   B   |   C   |   D   |   E   |   F   |   G   |   H   |   I   |   J   |   K   |   L   |   M   |   N   |   O   |   P   |   Q   |   R   |   S   |   T   |   U   |   V   |   W   |   X   |   Y

Don't Ask, Just Tell Parents When It's Time for Vaccines: Study

MONDAY, Nov. 4 (HealthDay News) -- The way a doctor talks about vaccines can make a difference in whether or not parents resist shots for their child, new research suggests.

Parents are much less likely to resist these immunizations, the study found, if a doctor uses language that presumes the parent will accept the vaccines, such as "We have to do some shots," instead of language that suggests that vaccinations need to be discussed and then decided on, such as "What do you want to do about shots?"

"We know that one of the most important influences on parents' decision-making on childhood vaccinations is the pediatrician, but that conversation doesn't always go well," said study author Dr. Douglas Opel, an assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle. "We wanted to see how the actual conversation happens and if we could parse out specific elements in the conversation."

It turns out how a doctor starts the vaccine discussion is an important predictor of how more or less resistant a parent is to vaccines, said Opel. "If doctors start with a question, parents were more likely to argue than if they were simply told it was time for a vaccine," he explained.

Rates of some childhood vaccinations in the United States are below the 80 percent goal set in the Healthy People 2020 report, according to background information in the study. Although research suggesting a link between childhood vaccinations and autism has been discredited, the number of parents who have concerns about vaccines remains high. And the rate of nonmedical exemptions for vaccines increases each year. Such vaccination lapses have been cited as a cause of sporadic outbreaks of whooping cough (pertussis) and measles, experts say.

In previous research, the child's health care provider has been cited as an important factor in a parent's decision about whether to have their child vaccinated or not, according to the current research.

For this study, released online Nov. 4 and in the December print issue of the journal Pediatrics, Opel and his colleagues analyzed 111 vaccine discussions between parents and 16 doctors at nine practices. Half of these discussions included parents who were hesitant about vaccines.

Most physicians -- 74 percent -- used presumptive language, such as "We have to do shots," instead of participatory language, such as "What do you want to do about shots?"

The odds of parents raising an objection to vaccination were more than 17 times higher if a doctor used participatory language rather than presumptive language, the study found.

If parents resisted the vaccine, half of the providers continued with their initial recommendation, saying something like, "He really needs these shots." And 47 percent of the initially resistant parents chose to follow that recommendation.

"The participatory language suggests shared-decision making, and this isn't necessarily a time to share a decision with parents. There isn't a choice here. There's no other medically accepted option," noted Opel.

Another expert agreed.

"By asking parents what they want to do about shots, you're sending a subliminal message to parents that maybe you don't really believe that they're necessary," said Dr. Kenneth Bromberg, director of the Vaccine Research Center and chairman of pediatrics at the Brooklyn Hospital Center in New York City.

"When you're perceived as ambivalent and pretend there are two sides to a story, it sounds like you don't feel as strongly as you do about vaccinations," he said.

Pediatricians may try to avoid sounding authoritarian, but it's the rare parent who can get all of the necessary information and be an equal participant in these discussions, he noted. "There are times, as physicians, that we have to take a strong stand and say what we believe," said Bromberg.

Opel suggested that parents need to understand that if their child's doctor asks them an open-ended question about vaccines, it's not because there's some alternative to immunizations, it's probably because they're trying to develop a relationship and engender trust.

"We don't want parents to leave with questions or concerns unanswered. Your child's doctor really is interested in talking to you about your vaccine concerns, but you should be prepared to hear your pediatrician out, too," said Opel.

More information

Learn more about children's vaccines from the Nemours Foundation.

SOURCES: Douglas Opel, M.D., assistant professor, pediatrics, Seattle Children's Research Institute and the University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle; Kenneth Bromberg, M.D., chair, pediatrics, and director, Vaccine Research Center, The Brooklyn Hospital Center, New York City; December 2013 Pediatrics

Reviewed Date: --

Find a pediatrician
Infectious Diseases
Kenji Cunnion, MD
Randall Fisher, MD
Laura Sass, MD
Health Tips
Boost Your Teen Daughter’s Body Image
Cool Tools to Keep Your Kids From Smoking
Could Your Child Have a Drug Problem?
Do Parents Influence Their Kids’ Health Behaviors?
Growing Up Short or Heavy Can Be Difficult
Guidelines for Raising Smoke-Free Kids
Helping Children Conquer Fear
How Old Is 'Old Enough' for Contacts?
How to Prevent Childhood Obesity
How to Talk About Drugs With Your Kids
Keeping Your Cool When Parenting Teens
Kids' Health Concerns Ease with Age
Making Rules for Children Reinforces Love
Making This School Year Your Child's Best Ever
New Parents...Sore Backs
Parents-to-Be Must Communicate
Paying for Attention: Abuse of Prescription ADHD Drugs Rising on College Campuses
Preparing Your Daughter for Changes
Reading to Kids Helps Their Development
Solving Battles at Mealtime
Talk With Your Kids About These Issues
Talking Sex with Your Teen
Teens and Talk: What's a Parent to Do?
We Can Head Off Teen Tragedies
What Kids Drink Is Important, Too
When Children Say 'No' to New Foods
When to Call the Doctor for Childhood Illnesses
When Your Child Says, 'I'm Sick'
Quizzes
Immunization Quiz
Diseases & Conditions
AIDS/HIV in Children
Anatomy of a Child's Brain
Anatomy of the Endocrine System in Children
Anxiety Disorders in Children
Asthma and Children
Asthma in Children Index
Bicycle, In-Line Skating, Skateboarding Safety--Injury Statistics and Incidence Rates
Bipolar Disorder in Children
Bone Marrow Transplantation in Children
Brain Tumors in Children
Chemotherapy for Children: Side Effects
Diphtheria in Children
Discipline
During an Asthma Attack
Ewing Sarcoma
Firearms
Hepatitis B (HBV) in Children
Inflammatory and Infectious Musculoskeletal Disorders
Inflammatory and Infectious Neurological Disorders
Inguinal Hernia in Children
Insect Bites and Children
Kidney Transplantation in Children
Meningitis in Children
Mood Disorders in Children and Adolescents
Muscular Dystrophy
Myasthenia Gravis in Children
Osteosarcoma in Children
Pediatric Blood Disorders
Poliomyelitis (Polio) in Children
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in Children
Preparing the School-Aged Child for Surgery
Schizophrenia in Children
School-Aged Child Nutrition
Slipped Capital Femoral Epiphysis
Sports Safety for Children
Superficial Injuries Overview
Television and Children
Thalassemia
The Growing Child: 2-Year-Olds
The Heart
The Kidneys
Vision Overview
Whooping Cough (Pertussis)

Disclaimer: This information is not intended to substitute or replace the professional medical advice you receive from your child's physician. The content provided on this page is for informational purposes only, and was not designed to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease. Please consult your child's physician with any questions or concerns you may have regarding a medical condition.