Science-based communication to decrease disparities in adult pneumococcal vaccination rates

Brian S. Krueger
Marc L. Hutchison
Emily C. Bodo
Kelly K. Orr
Jennifer DeAngelis
Aisling R. Caffrey
Kerry L. LaPlante


Objectives: The objective of our study was to determine the effects of science-based communications on the attitude toward pneumococcal vaccination and understand how nonwhite racial and ethnic populations respond to these messages. Design: Our team tested several science-based communications using a nationally representative survey, and validated them in a local community pharmacy as a field experiment. Setting and participants: The nationally representative sample phase was a survey of 3276 participants, conducted by YouGov, a leading online survey firm. The field experiment was conducted at a community pharmacy in the northeastern United States and included 86 participants. Outcome measures: In the national survey, participants were assigned to treatment groups or a control group to determine the effects of messaging strategies on influencing favorable views of pneumococcal vaccination. In the field experiment, participants were assigned to treatment or control groups to determine if the messaging strategies affected intent to ask a medical professional about the vaccine. Results: The nationally representative sample survey identified that messaging that focused on community and family duty had statistically significant treatment effects toward increasing individuals’ perception of personal importance to have the vaccine in both the nonwhite (increase of 12.2% points relative to control) and white respondents (increase of 8.7% points relative to control). These results were validated through a field experiment, which showed that a combination message, emphasizing duty, increased the individual's intent to vaccinate by 25% points in a diverse ethnic population as compared with the control. Conclusions: Messaging focused on appeals to community and family duty produced statistically significant increases in favorable attitudes toward pneumococcal vaccines and behavioral intent to seek medical advice about the vaccine in white and nonwhite populations across both the nationally representative survey and the field experiment. Medical professionals should highlight the duty to family and community when communicating with patients, as it may motivate vaccination in all populations.