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Anti-vaccine conspiracy theories may have 'detrimental consequences' for children's health

Date:
February 25, 2014
Source:
University of Kent
Summary:
A belief in anti-vaccine conspiracy theories may have significant and detrimental consequences for children's health, new research has shown. In the study, 89 parents were interviewed about their views on anti-vaccine conspiracy theories and then asked them to indicate their intention to have a fictional child vaccinated. It was found that stronger belief in anti-vaccine conspiracy theories was associated with lower intention to vaccinate. In a second study, 188 participants were exposed to information concerning anti-vaccine conspiracy theories. It was found that reading this material reduced their intention to have a fictional child vaccinated, relative to participants who were given refuting information or those in a control condition.

A belief in anti-vaccine conspiracy theories may have significant and detrimental consequences for children's health, new research from the University has shown.

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Researchers Daniel Jolley and Dr Karen Douglas, of the School of Psychology, surveyed 89 parents about their views on anti-vaccine conspiracy theories and then asked them to indicate their intention to have a fictional child vaccinated. It was found that stronger belief in anti-vaccine conspiracy theories was associated with lower intention to vaccinate.

In a second study, 188 participants were exposed to information concerning anti-vaccine conspiracy theories. It was found that reading this material reduced their intention to have a fictional child vaccinated, relative to participants who were given refuting information or those in a control condition.

Daniel Jolley said: 'This research is timely in the face of declining vaccination rates and recent outbreaks of vaccinated-against diseases in the UK, such as measles. Our studies demonstrate that anti-vaccine conspiracy theories may present a barrier to vaccine uptake, which may potentially have significant and detrimental consequences for children's health.'

Dr Douglas added: 'It is easy to treat belief in conspiracy theories lightly, but our studies show that wariness about conspiracy theories may be warranted. Ongoing investigations are needed to further identify the social consequences of conspiracism and to identify potential ways to combat the effects of an ever-increasing culture of conspiracism.'

The research, titled 'The effects of anti-vaccine conspiracy theories on vaccination intentions', was carried out by Daniel Jolley, Postgraduate Researcher, and Dr Karen Douglas, Reader in Psychology, at the University of Kent. It is published in the open-access, online journal PLOS ONE.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Kent. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Daniel Jolley, Karen M. Douglas. The Effects of Anti-Vaccine Conspiracy Theories on Vaccination Intentions. PLoS ONE, 2014; 9 (2): e89177 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0089177

Cite This Page:

University of Kent. "Anti-vaccine conspiracy theories may have 'detrimental consequences' for children's health." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 February 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140225101507.htm>.
University of Kent. (2014, February 25). Anti-vaccine conspiracy theories may have 'detrimental consequences' for children's health. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 26, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140225101507.htm
University of Kent. "Anti-vaccine conspiracy theories may have 'detrimental consequences' for children's health." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140225101507.htm (accessed January 26, 2015).

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