To characterize provider-parent vaccine communication and determine the influence of specific provider communication practices on parent resistance to vaccine recommendations.
We conducted a cross-sectional observational study in which we videotaped provider-parent vaccine discussions during health supervision visits. Parents of children aged 1 to 19 months old were screened by using the Parent Attitudes about Childhood Vaccines survey. We oversampled vaccine-hesitant parents (VHPs), defined as a score ≥50. We developed a coding scheme of 15 communication practices and applied it to all visits. We used multivariate logistic regression to explore the association between provider communication practices and parent resistance to vaccines, controlling for parental hesitancy status and demographic and visit characteristics.
We analyzed 111 vaccine discussions involving 16 providers from 9 practices; 50% included VHPs. Most providers (74%) initiated vaccine recommendations with presumptive (eg, “Well, we have to do some shots”) rather than participatory (eg, “What do you want to do about shots?”) formats. Among parents who voiced resistance to provider initiation (41%), significantly more were VHPs than non-VHPs. Parents had significantly higher odds of resisting vaccine recommendations if the provider used a participatory rather than a presumptive initiation format (adjusted odds ratio: 17.5; 95% confidence interval: 1.2–253.5). When parents resisted, 50% of providers pursued their original recommendations (eg, “He really needs these shots”), and 47% of initially resistant parents subsequently accepted recommendations when they did.
How providers initiate and pursue vaccine recommendations is associated with parental vaccine acceptance.