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Keywords:

  • childhood vaccination;
  • decision-making;
  • health literacy;
  • internet;
  • Norway;
  • parents;
  • public health nursing

austvoll-dahlgren a. & helseth s. (2010) What informs parents’ decision-making about childhood vaccinations? Journal of Advanced Nursing66(11), 2421–2430.

Abstract

Aim.  This paper is a report of a study conducted to identify parents’ decision-making processes in relation to childhood vaccinations, including barriers and facilitators to searching for information.

Background.  Decision-making about childhood vaccinations is complex. Access to the best available evidence and the ability to obtain and understand such information are necessary for effective participation in decision-making.

Methods.  A grounded theory approach was used, with semi-structured interviews and focus groups with parents (= 10) and public health nurses (= 16) conducted in 2008. Data were derived through incident-to-incident and axial coding.

Findings.  Being positive towards vaccination and being decided were found to be main barriers to participation and obtaining information; other factors were perceptions about own abilities and capacity. Public health nurses were the parents’ most important source of information, but tended to inform to facilitate vaccinations. Issues related to this and being inadequately informed were that some parents expressed low confidence about the decision they had made and uncertainty about their rights and responsibilities in decision-making.

Conclusion.  Information delivered by public health nurses should not facilitate a specific choice but rather be balanced, explaining the benefits and harms, and accompanied by a qualified recommendation. Useful tools to improve practice may include checklists for shared decision-making and guidelines about trustworthy websites.