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Swimming upstream : the experience of parents who choose not to immunize their children Marchant-Short, Sheila Jayne

Abstract

This study explored the experience of parents who have chosen not to immunize their children. Immunization is generally considered by health care professionals to be one of the most effective public health practices. There is an assumption in the immunization literature that if parents choose not to immunize their children then they must need more information, or they do not understand the risk of disease or they are following some incorrect line of reasoning. An interpretive descriptive design was used for this study of nine parents who had declined immunization for their children. Participants ranged in age from 25 to 45 years, with children ranging in age from 4 months to 12 years. All parents resided in the catchment area served by the Vancouver Island Health Authority - South Island. Data were collected by unstructured interviews and analyzed using inductive analysis. Parents reported that they sought to be well informed, they desired expert advice and they found themselves weighing conflicting choices and opinions. Parents also reported varying degrees of support from health care providers and others after making a socially unacceptable decision. And finally, parents reported their experience of learning to live with the repercussions of their decision including their perception of health care received and accessing health care services. The findings from this study have the potential of assisting health care providers to have a better understanding of the experience of parents who decided not to immunize, and how their practice potentially affects the experience of parents.

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