AAP study finds pro vaccine messages backfire

The American Academy of Pediatrics published study results on Monday that found messages about the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine do not produce the desired effect of encouraging parents to vaccinate their children.

The study tested four types of messages with a random sample of 1,759 parents. The parents were randomly assigned intervention strategies commonly used by public health agencies to promote the measles, mumps and rubella vaccinations.

The research showed that none of the campaigns increased the parents' intent to vaccinate their children, and some of them backfired.

One campaign contained information from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention that explained the lack of evidence linking the MMR vaccine with autism. The parents who received this information reported having fewer misconceptions about the vaccine. Compared to the control group, however, the parents' intent to vaccinate their children decreased.

Messages intended to inform parents about the dangers of MMR increased misconceptions, according to the study. Parents reported more misinformation about MMR causing autism or other "side effects" of the vaccine following viewing the campaign.

Other campaigns included in the study featured textual information about dangers of the diseases, and a dramatic narrative of an infant with measles who almost died.

Researchers concluded that more research is necessary to discover what messages would result in fewer misconceptions and less fear.