Vaccine attitude rises and falls with ideology

vaccine
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Political views and a person's trust in government play a role in whether or not they get vaccinated, according to a study by three faculty members at the University of Idaho.

Bert Baumgaertner, Juliet Carlisle and Florian Justwan, in the Department of Politics and Philosophy in the College of Letters, Arts and Social Sciences, published their findings based on responses to a 2017 national survey. Their paper, "The Influence of Political Ideology and Trust on Willingness to Vaccinate," was published today in the journal PLOS ONE.

The results suggest a person's ideology directly impacts who they trust, allowing the person to selectively credit information related to vaccine risks and benefits in ways that reflect their ideology. A person with strong conservative is less likely to vaccinate than a person with strong liberal political views, according to the study, as is someone who holds lower levels of trust in government medical experts.

"… Decisions about vaccination are based on more than mere knowledge of risks, costs and benefits," the authors wrote. "Individual decision making about vaccinating involves many other factors including those related to emotion, culture, religion and socio-political context."

The study focused on answers to two hypothetical questions related to whooping cough, measles and the flu. Survey respondents were asked to imagine they were missing vaccinations for the three diseases both during and outside of outbreak times.

Baumgaertner, Carlisle and Justwan said their findings suggest awareness campaigns will have limited success when targeting individuals who have limited trust in vaccines to begin with. Public health strategies have long focused on increasing knowledge and awareness based on a "knowledge-deficit" approach to vaccination, but the authors found a person's ideology has a direct effect on a decision to get a specific shot.

"It's a question of how do we as a society have coverage against diseases and what role do doctors and government health professionals play in that," Carlisle said.

The researchers also found that ideology has a strong and statistically significant effect on trust in government medical experts as a whole. However, a person's political worldview does not seem to influence the extent to which they trust their family's primary health care provider.

"There is no effect on ideology with respect to trust of the ," Baumgaertner said. "Further research is a good place for us to test how people place in the family physician."

Among other findings, the study found older citizens have slightly more negative views about immunizations than younger respondents while more affluent citizens tended to have more positive views of vaccinations.

The researchers have started on a follow-up study looking at how increased risk of infection, the length a person is sick and chance of death affects that person's vaccination attitude.


Explore further

Exploring the ideological antecedents of science acceptance and rejection

More information: Bert Baumgaertner et al. The influence of political ideology and trust on willingness to vaccinate, PLOS ONE (2018). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0191728
Journal information: PLoS ONE

Citation: Vaccine attitude rises and falls with ideology (2018, January 26) retrieved 17 October 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-01-vaccine-attitude-falls-ideology.html
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
11 shares

Feedback to editors

User comments

Jan 26, 2018
Well, yes, based on what I've read about Idaho this would be the natural result of such a survey taken in that area. However, if the survey takers were to poll people in some of the more liberal areas of California or Oregon I think they'd find out that anti-vaccination beliefs are rather popular on both ends of the political spectrum, not just the right end.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more