Parents’ reasons for not vaccinating children influence public attitudes

Issue: BCMJ, vol. 59 , No. 6 , July August 2017 , Pages 325 News

Mothers are viewed negatively if their child hasn’t been vaccinated, no matter the reason. But mothers who outright refuse to vaccinate their children are viewed in a harsher light compared to those who delay vaccines because of safety concerns or who aren’t up to date due to time constraints. That’s one finding of a UBC study that examined attitudes toward children who haven’t received their vaccinations and toward their parents.

For the study the researchers used data collected from an online survey conducted from 29 June to 2 July 2015 that involved 1469 US respondents randomly assigned to read one of four scenarios:

1. A mother who has concerns about vaccinations and has refused to vaccinate her child.
2. A mother who has concerns about vaccinations and has decided to delay some. 
3. A mother who has no concerns about vaccinations but her job and family demands have made it difficult to stay up-to-date with medical appointments. 
4. A mother who has no concerns and has ensured her child always receives recommended vaccinations (the control group).

Researchers focused on mothers in each scenario because they are often the primary decision-makers when it comes to their children’s health. After reading each scenario survey respondents were asked questions that measured attitudes such as blame toward the mother if the child or others became sick, and how willing respondents would be to make friends with the mother or let their children socialize with the undervaccinated child. The survey also measured respondents’ support for public policies that aim to boost vaccination rates, such as providing greater vaccination education and services or banning undervaccinated children from school.

Researchers found that respondents also stigmatized both the parent and their undervaccinated child, regardless of the reason they weren’t up-to-date on vaccinations. These respondents were also more likely to support stricter public policies such as banning undervaccinated children from schools to increase vaccination rates.

Authors of the study believe that to effectively address low child vaccination rates, it’s important to understand not only the parents’ motivations but also how the general public views both undervaccinated children and their parents. The study was published in Social Science and Medicine (

. Parents’ reasons for not vaccinating children influence public attitudes. BCMJ, Vol. 59, No. 6, July, August, 2017, Page(s) 325 - News.

Above is the information needed to cite this article in your paper or presentation. The International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) recommends the following citation style, which is the now nearly universally accepted citation style for scientific papers:
Halpern SD, Ubel PA, Caplan AL, Marion DW, Palmer AM, Schiding JK, et al. Solid-organ transplantation in HIV-infected patients. N Engl J Med. 2002;347:284-7.

About the ICMJE and citation styles

The ICMJE is small group of editors of general medical journals who first met informally in Vancouver, British Columbia, in 1978 to establish guidelines for the format of manuscripts submitted to their journals. The group became known as the Vancouver Group. Its requirements for manuscripts, including formats for bibliographic references developed by the U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM), were first published in 1979. The Vancouver Group expanded and evolved into the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE), which meets annually. The ICMJE created the Recommendations for the Conduct, Reporting, Editing, and Publication of Scholarly Work in Medical Journals to help authors and editors create and distribute accurate, clear, easily accessible reports of biomedical studies.

An alternate version of ICMJE style is to additionally list the month an issue number, but since most journals use continuous pagination, the shorter form provides sufficient information to locate the reference. The NLM now lists all authors.

BCMJ standard citation style is a slight modification of the ICMJE/NLM style, as follows:

  • Only the first three authors are listed, followed by "et al."
  • There is no period after the journal name.
  • Page numbers are not abbreviated.

For more information on the ICMJE Recommendations for the Conduct, Reporting, Editing, and Publication of Scholarly Work in Medical Journals, visit

BCMJ Guidelines for Authors

Leave a Reply