Qualitative Analysis of Mothers' Decision-Making about Vaccines for Infants

The Importance of Trust

The current article presented findings from a qualitative study of parents' decision-making process about vaccinating their children. A sample of 33 postpartum mothers was interviewed face-to-face using in-depth, open-ended questions. Mothers also were asked close-ended questions and were interviewed again three to six months after the initial interview. Once interview data was transcribed it was coded and analyzed using grounded theory.

Key Findings:

  • Mothers ranged in age from 19 to 43 years. Most participants (67%) were white, 30 percent were black and 9 percent Hispanic. Follow-up interviews were conducted with 58 percent of the participants.
  • Two major groupings of mothers were identified: “vaccinators” (n = 25) and “nonvaccinators” (n = 8).
  • Vaccinators were either unquestioning or had some concerns about vaccination. Nonvaccinators either delayed or selected portions of vaccines or did not accept vaccination at all.
  • Mothers had limited knowledge about vaccination and almost half provided incorrect information about vaccines during interviews.
  • The source of information about vaccination, promoters of vaccination and inhibitors of vaccination were three major themes associated with mothers' decision-making process.
  • Trust, an integral aspect of the decision-making process particularly in regard to relationship with the medical provider, served to promote vaccination. Distrust inhibited vaccination.
  • Inhibitors of vaccination included alienation from the pediatrician, negative personal experiences with the medical field and fears about negative effects of vaccination.