Helen Zhao

Year: 2016
Affiliations: Biophysics, Philosophy
Award: Woodrow Wilson

Project Description

Recommendations to health care providers for addressing parent’s vaccine safety concerns

A 2015 poll of 1015 US adults reported that 52% of respondents were unsure whether vaccines cause autism despite overwhelming scientific evidence to the contrary. Given the prevalence of vaccine safety concerns, it is therefore imperative to ask how health care providers (HCPs) should respond to concerns raised by parents in the clinical context to maintain vaccine uptake. The aim of this project was to investigate this question by conducting a literature search of articles in the databases PubMed and Embase. Analysis of the 52 articles that met the inclusion criteria revealed that recommendations to health care providers have not significantly changed since 1998, when a paper proposing a connection between vaccines and autism was published (the paper has since been retracted for fraud and research ethics violations). Given continuing changes in public perceptions of vaccine safety, it is suggested that current recommendations to HCPs are ineffective, have not been implemented, or require the support of larger-scale public education efforts to effect improvements to public confidence in vaccine safety.

Mentor: Dr. Nandi Theunissen, Department of Philosophy

Helen Zhao final paper


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