Parental beliefs and decision making about child and adolescent immunization: From polio to sexually transmitted infections

Lynne A. Sturm, Rose M. Mays, Gregory D. Zimet

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

127 Scopus citations


Over the past 150 years, innovations in immunization practices have dramatically improved the health of children, and parents are increasingly asked to consider and accept new childhood vaccines. We present a conceptual model to frame a review of research on the role of parental attitudes and beliefs in decision making about child and adolescent immunization and describe the historical context of vaccine-related decision-making research. This review focuses on theory-based Social-environmental and parent-specific personal factors as potential influences on vaccine decision making. Relevant Social-environmental issues discussed include media coverage of vaccines, perceived social norms, and the persuasive influence of peer groups. Health care provider recommendations are presented as an exemplar of factors related to the family's interface with the health care system. Personal factors addressed include parental health beliefs, attitudes, and knowledge related to vaccine preventable diseases and immunization, as well as cognitive heuristics that are employed in the decision-making process (e.g., omission bias, protected values, framing of information). Last, promising directions for research and suggestions for clinical practice are presented.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)441-452
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2005


  • Attitudes
  • Child
  • Health knowledge
  • Immunization
  • Parents
  • Practice
  • Vaccination

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Psychology(all)
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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