The source of health information can have an impact on the manner and frequency of its use. In the arena of vaccine safety, a variety of sources promulgate information from very different perspectives. The spectrum runs from traditional sources such as public health officials and physicians to nontraditional sources, such as celebrities.
To assess what proportion of parents trust vaccine information from different sources and whether different groups of parents vary in their trust of such information.
In January 2009, as part of a larger study of parents and nonparents, 2521 online surveys were fielded to a nationally representative sample of parents of children aged ≤17 years. The main outcome measure was the source credibility of vaccine-safety information used by parents.
The response rate was 62%. Parents reported trusting their children's doctor for vaccine-safety information most often (76% endorsed a lot of trust), followed by other health care providers (26%), government vaccine experts/officials (23%), and family and friends (15%). In contrast, celebrities were trusted a lot by 2% of the respondents and not at all by 76% of the respondents. Levels of trust in specific sources of vaccine-safety information varied significantly by gender (women > men) and race/ethnicity (Hispanics > other groups).
Although most parents place a lot of trust in their child(ren)'s physician, parents' trust in non–health professional sources for such information should not be discounted. Those who design public health efforts to provide evidence-based information must recognize that different strategies may be required to reach some groups of parents who use other information sources.