Thursday, June 09, 2005

Trumpeting vaccination may only entrench opposition

I have a request. Please read the following, short press release that appeared on EurekAlert! two weeks ago and tell me what you conclude.

Extolling the safety and benefits of childhood vaccinations may only serve to strengthen and entrench the positions of those philosophically opposed to them, says new research led by University of Toronto scientists.

Sorry. Can't help but throw in my comment: qualifying the parents who oppose vaccines as “philosophically” opposed is insulting to all parents who are opposed to vaccines based on knowledge, research they’ve done, or the fact that one of their kids may have suffered an adverse vaccine reaction. That qualification is clearly meant to discredit non-vaccinators.

"Changing attitudes about pediatric vaccination can be challenging," says Dr. Kumanan Wilson, professor of medicine and health policy, management and evaluation at U of T, internal medicine physician at Toronto General Hospital, University Health Network, and lead author of the research.

"Some parents have strongly held beliefs about the safety and benefits of vaccines and any attempts to try to change their minds may only strengthen their anti-vaccine sentiments."

Wilson and his colleagues from U of T and McMaster University sought to test the attitudes of people known to have views not supportive of vaccination. They randomly divided 97 participants into two study groups. One group received an evidence-based lecture on the benefits of polio vaccine while the other received a talk by a polio survivor. Participants completed surveys about their attitudes to vaccines before and after the presentations. "Before" surveys confirmed the researchers' initial hypothesis – these participants were generally non-supportive of vaccines with only nine per cent saying they would recommend the polio vaccine and six per cent saying they would recommend the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine.

However, analysis of the "after" surveys revealed surprising results – some respondents reported being even more opposed to vaccination. After seeing the presentations, 25 per cent reported being less likely to recommend the polio vaccine and 38 per cent were less likely to think polio was a serious problem.

"For some parents, concerns about vaccines are deeply held and physicians need to be aware of these findings when confronting parents who are strongly opposed to vaccination," warns Wilson. "Prolonged discussions may be counterproductive and could in fact damage the physician-patient relationship." The study appeared the April issue of Vaccine.

I don’t want to sound condescending, but doesn’t it strike you that the statement, "Prolonged discussions may be counterproductive and could in fact damage the physician-patient relationship," is a veiled way to say, "to hell with informed consent, just give them the damn needle."

The press release is clearly meant to advise doctors to provide less information to parents. But the results of the study, that parents who are informed (predisposed not to vaccinate) become even more firm in their opposition once given more information, prove that the more parents know about the dangers of diseases and vaccines, the less likely they are to vaccinate.

Hello? Can you say, “special interest spin” and “research result manipulation?”

I'm dying for comments on this...


Blogger Toad734 said...

What is Eurek Alert? Who are they?

If polio has pretty much been eliminated then why do we need a vaccine for it. Lets develop an AIDS vaccine instead.

So if they did come up with an AIDS vaccine, would you approve of that?

I personally wouldn't need one since I know the blood supplies are basically pure and I DONT FUCK PEOPLE I DONT KNOW WITHOUT A CONDOM!

Now lets now talk about the myth of circumcision.

June 09, 2005  
Blogger Donna said...

Re Polio vaccine: We don't need it.

Re AIDS vaccine: you know, I'm not sure about an AIDS vaccine, if I'd approve. Depends on how safe and effective the vaccine actually is. I'm with you on the "just don't get it by acting smart" fence.

Re pure blood supply: if that's the case in the USA, good on you. In Canada we've had some pretty eye-opening cases of blood borne diseases spreading through the blood collection and dissemination system.

re circumcision: what's the myth? It's stupid, archaic and for the vast majority of boys unneccessary. Do people still do that? In my province if you want to torture your infant son by snipping his foreskin you have to pay extra for that.

June 09, 2005  
Blogger Gina said...

I got a different Picture from "Prolonged discussions may be counterproductive and could in fact damage the physician-patient relationship,"
I saw that as more and warning to doctors that by trying to push the issue with thier patient they would make their patients not like them. I've seen it with many of my non-vaccinating friends, their doctor pushes and pushes and they end up not wanting to take their kids back because they feel like the doctor doesn't listen and won't let them make thier own medical choices.

June 09, 2005  
Blogger Donna said...

GIna, you are, of course, right. That is probably the intent of that sentence. But I would suggest that if a doctor cannot respect a patient's values, then he or she is the wrong doctor for that family. The family would do better to find a doctor who can respect them.

The problem with that statement is that is is doctor-focused, not patient-focused. Like much of the medical system!

June 10, 2005  

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