Effects of Facebook Comments on Attitude Toward Vaccines: The Roles of Perceived Distributions of Public Opinion and Perceived Vaccine Efficacy

Abstract: This study investigated if and how exposure to Facebook comments about vaccines influences one’s attitude toward the vaccines. In this investigation, comments were examined in light of their effect on attitude toward vaccines through perceived distribution of public opinion on vaccines, and perceived vaccine efficacy was tested as a factor moderating relative effects of comments on perception of public opinion distributions. Results from an experimental study (N = 271) showed that exposure to a greater number of comments in a thread expressing (un)favorable opinions on the flu vaccine led to (un)favorable attitude toward the flu vaccine through a change in perceived distribution of public opinions on the vaccination. The indirect effect of comments on attitude toward the flu vaccine through perceived public opinion distributions was greater among participants with lower levels of perceived vaccine efficacy, while the direct effect of comments on attitude was not significant.

Understanding flu vaccination attitudes and behaviors: Exploring a measure of health decision-making preferences.

Abstract: Annual influenza vaccination has been recommended for all adults in the United States since 2010, but coverage estimates indicate that less than half of American adults complied during the 2018-19 flu season. A number of studies have assessed the correlates of adult influenza vaccination attitudes and behaviors, but stagnating flu vaccination rates suggest new approaches are needed to better understand influenza vaccination beliefs, behaviors, and intentions. This work introduces a new concept to the vaccination attitude and behavior literature. This new measure of health decision-making preferences is not only correlated with vaccine confidence and hesitancy, but it is positively related to prior flu vaccination behaviors and future flu vaccination intentions, even after controlling for a host of factors known to influence vaccine attitudes and behaviors. The implications of the new measure for communication and targeted (flu) vaccination messaging are discussed.

Using Immersive Virtual Reality to Improve the Beliefs and Intentions of Influenza Vaccine Avoidant 18-to-49-Year-Olds: Considerations, Effects, and Lessons Learned.

Abstract: Only one-third of adults 18 to 49 years old in the United States receive a recommended annual influenza vaccination. This study examined whether supplementing vaccine information statements (VIS) with an immersive virtual reality (VR), short video or electronic pamphlet story designed to convey the community immunity benefits of influenza vaccination would improve influenza vaccine avoidant participants’ influenza-related perceptions as well as their influenza vaccination-related beliefs, confidence and intentions.  Method: A one-way between-subjects experimental design compared the effects of adding a supplemental education experience prior to VIS exposure with flu vaccine avoidant 18-to-49-year-olds. The 171 participants recruited from the community were randomly assigned to one of three modality treatment conditions [VR, video, or e-pamphlet (i.e., story board presented via electronic tablet)] or a VIS-only control condition.   Results: Compared to the modalities, the VR intervention created a stronger perception of presence (i.e., feeling of “being there” in the story), which, in turn, increased participants’ concern about transmitting influenza to others and raised vaccination intention. Increased concern about transmitting influenza to others was associated with positive effects on influenza vaccination-related beliefs, including confidence that one’s flu vaccination would protect others. Neither the e-pamphlet nor the video intervention were able to elicit a sense of presence nor were they able to improve the impact of the VIS on the outcome measures.   Conclusions: Immersive VR has much potential to increase understanding of key immunization concepts, such as community immunity, through creative executions that increase a sense of presence. Given the need to increase influenza vaccination uptake among 18-to-49-year-olds, and the projected growth in VR accessibility and use, additional applications and assessments related to vaccination communication and education are needed and warranted. By increasing the ability to convey key vaccine and immunization concepts, immersive VR could help address vaccination hesitancy and acceptance challenges.