Covid-19, to convince the skeptics we need to listen to their concerns

Covid-19, to convince the skeptics we need to listen to their concerns


A study conducted in Poland analyzed the views of the so-called "vaccine hesitants". The results suggest that healthcare institutions should approach them with positive communication, addressing individual concerns

Photo: Spencer Davis / Unsplash The vaccination campaign continues. Today Italy can count on 60% of immunized people over 12 years of age. And fortunately, because the data tells us that serious cases of Covid-19, hospital admissions and deaths can be prevented thanks to vaccines. Yet, the unconvinced resist: these are the so-called "hesitant vaccinations", a category that includes both those who strenuously oppose vaccination and those who are doubtful and unwilling. A study by the Jagiellonian University, in Krakow, investigated this position in detail: from the results - published in the Social Psychological Bulletin - it seems that skepticism towards vaccines has little to do with personal experiences, and much to do with generalized attitudes and bias. confirmation .

Vaccines, a recent lack of confidence

The life expectancy of the global population has almost doubled over the last century and many experts agree that vaccines are largely to blame: if at the dawn of 1900 the main causes of death were infectious, the trend was definitely reversed in a handful of decades. Yet, recently it seems that vaccines are victims of their own success: on the one hand the population has become unaccustomed to dealing with very contagious and often fatal diseases, on the other hand there is a growing fear about the side effects of vaccines. and doubts about their effectiveness. The result has been an increase in people who refuse to vaccinate themselves or their children, with worrying consequences for the spread of infectious diseases previously kept under control, such as measles. Now opinions about vaccines play a crucial role in managing the Covid-19 pandemic, as, scientific data in hand, the vaccine is the only tool to contain the onset of serious symptoms, hospital admissions and deaths due to to Sars-Cov-2 infection. The preliminary results of the study by the State of Milan ResPOnsE Covid-19, which investigates the response of public opinion to the pandemic emergency in Italy, report that those who are absolutely against vaccination are equal to 5% of the Italian population, but that there is about 13% are also unwilling to get vaccinated, even if they are compulsory.

Don't call them no-vax

The numbers confirm trends that were already known in social psychology, well before Covid-19: contrary to the traditional conception, according to which attitudes are either absolutely positive or negative, when it comes to vaccines, thinking in dichotomous terms helps little. In fact, several studies underline that communication in favor of vaccination should include above all people who have heterogeneous and ambivalent positions in this regard: the beliefs that are halfway between complete acceptance and total rejection of the vaccine are called vaccination hesitations. It is important for health institutions to understand these positions because not only those who are hesitant about vaccination generally have more malleable beliefs than those who oppose them on principle, but also because they are a greater number of people. In light of this, the researchers investigated the opinions of those who oppose Covid-19 vaccines, to better understand them.

The study in detail

The data was collected By interviewing 492 participants online at an anti-vaccination conference in Poland, researchers found that most vaccine hesitants and opponents are motivated by generalized negative views, not direct experience. Indeed, although participants initially explained their opposition to vaccines with direct negative experiences, they were unable to detail these experiences, citing concerns about autism, allergies, or the health of vaccinated children. The results indicate that individuals who reported a negative experience with vaccination were actually persuaded by typical anti-vaccine arguments. The reason behind these attitudes may lie behind the so-called confirmation bias: "Confirmation bias consists of an individual actively seeking information consistent with their pre-existing hypothesis and avoiding information that offers alternative explanations," the researchers write in their paper. Therefore, a pre-existing negative attitude towards vaccines not only led the study participants to believe exclusively in the anti-vaccine arguments, but also to automatically link any negative symptoms resulting from direct experiences with the dangerousness of the vaccine. br>
In addition, compared to total opponents of the vaccine, those who identified themselves as hesitant were more confident about the efficacy of vaccines, as well as the reliability of the research, although they still agree with the anti-vaccine arguments. Therefore, although the study has limitations (for example, it would be interesting to apply the same questionnaire to those who call themselves in favor of vaccines), the results suggest that health institutions should address the hesitant population with positive communication, addressing specific concerns. on side effects.

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Coronavirus Vaccines Coronavirus vaccine globalData.fldTopic = "Coronavirus , Vaccines, Coronavirus vaccine "

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