Pediatricians’ experience with and response to parental vaccine safety concerns and vaccine refusals: a survey of Connecticut pediatricians

Susan Leib, Penny Liberatos, Karen Edwards

Public Health Reports

Abstract | Objectives. Physicians are seeing increasing numbers of parents who question the safety of vaccines or refuse to vaccinate their children. This study examined how frequently pediatricians in one New England state encounter parental vaccine safety concerns and vaccine refusals, how often physicians dismiss families from their practices for vaccine refusal, and how parental vaccine refusal impacts pediatricians personally.

Methods. The study consisted of a quantitative survey of primary care pediatri-cians in one New England state; 133 pediatricians completed the questionnaire. Variables examined included number of parental vaccine concerns and refusals seen by each physician, physicians’ response to parental vaccine concerns and refusals, the personal impact of parental vaccine safety refusals on pediatricians, and respondent estimates of socioeconomic characteristics of families seen in their practices.

Results. The majority of responding pediatricians reported an increase in parental vaccine safety concerns and refusals. More than 30% of responding pediatricians have dismissed families because of their refusal to immunize. Suburban physicians caring for wealthier, better educated families experience more vaccine concerns and/or refusals and are more likely to dismiss families for vaccine refusal. Vaccine refusals have a negative personal impact on one-third of physician respondents.

Conclusions. Pediatricians in Connecticut are reporting increased levels of parental vaccine safety concerns and refusals. Physicians who report more parental vaccine safety concerns and refusals and who care for wealthier, better educated families are more likely to dismiss families who refuse vaccines and to be negatively affected by parental vaccine refusals, which may adversely impact childhood vaccination rates.

Leib S, Liberatos P, Edwards K.  Pediatricians’ experience with and response to parental vaccine safety concerns and vaccine refusals: a survey of Connecticut pediatricians. Public Health Rep. 2011 Jul-Aug;126 Suppl 2:13-23

One thought on “Pediatricians’ experience with and response to parental vaccine safety concerns and vaccine refusals: a survey of Connecticut pediatricians”

  1. Reported anecdotal remarks suggest that dismissal of patients from practices result from frustration that parents will not follow physician advice, or from attempts, through a punitive practice policy, to secure compliance from parents. This is not an exercise of freedom of conscience.

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