• 29Jun

    Parents want more balanced information on risks and benefits in advance of vaccinations

    The National Institute for Health Research has highlighted a study which states that parents say that insufficient information can lead them to regret their vaccination decision. They often want more information from trusted sources and expect practitioners to discuss both benefits and risks in good time before vaccination.

    England and Wales are below World Health Organization (WHO) targets for the uptake of several immunisations. This Cochrane review of 38 qualitative studies focused on the views of parents in relation to communications about vaccinations for children under six. It found that parents who have not had their children vaccinated may distrust information received from state healthcare and government.

    The findings of this qualitative research were presented narratively.

    • Parents generally found the amount of vaccination information they received to be inadequate and wanted more. High confidence; meaning it is highly likely that this review finding is a reasonable representation of the ‘phenomenon of interest’ – in this case parent experience and views.
    • Parents wanted an opportunity to reflect on detailed information and get questions ready before first and booster vaccinations. Moderate confidence; meaning that this is likely to represent parent experience and views.
    • Parents expected to talk about vaccination with health workers in tailored non-judgmental discussions. They would like conversations outside of vaccination appointments, including non-health settings and online. Low confidence; meaning that it is possible this is a reasonable representation of parent experience and views.
    • Some parents spoke of their mistrust of the objectivity of healthcare providers, the mass media and government sources. They believed that practitioners were influenced by financial incentives. This appeared to be especially amongst parents who held uncertain or negative attitudes towards vaccination. Moderate confidence; meaning that this is likely to represent parent experience and views.
    • Endorsement of vaccines from helpful trusted practitioners could lead to decisions to vaccinate. However, parents thought that pressure to vaccinate and prominent health campaigns could push them in either direction. High confidence; meaning that it is highly likely
    • Some UK parents remained concerned about the discredited link between MMR and autism.
    • Migrants (including those to the UK) could find it difficult to access translated information.

    These findings could influence future NHS vaccination information, reminders and campaigns. Providing greater access to clear, simple and trustworthy information may be key to making informed choices. Enhanced training for practitioners could help too.


    The original study can be found here:

    Ames HMR, Glenton C, Lewin S.
    Parents’ and informal caregivers’ views and experiences of communication about routine childhood vaccination: a synthesis of qualitative evidence. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2017,
    Issue 2. Art. No.: CD011787. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD011787.pub2.