The role of complementary and alternative medicine practitioners in the information-seeking pathway of vaccine-hesitant parents in the Blue Mountains area, Australia.

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Health and Social Care in the Community, 2021, 29, (6), pp. e368-e376
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While immunisation rates were 94.63% for the whole Nepean Blue Mountains region of New South Wales in 2017, coverage for 1 year olds in the upper Blue Mountains was under 80%. There is a known relationship between vaccine-hesitant parents and complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use; however, little is known about how CAM practitioners fit within the information-seeking pathway of parents. This exploratory study sought to address this knowledge gap. Qualitative semi-structured interviews with vaccine-hesitant and vaccine rejecting parents and CAM practitioners purposively sampled from the Blue Mountains area revealed three sets of themes: 1) Parents' search for further information about immunisation; 2) Parents' use of CAM practitioners as an immunisation information source; and 3) CAM practitioners' engagement with parents about immunisation. CAM practitioners form a definite, if complex, part of vaccine-hesitant and vaccine-rejecting parents decision-making pathway in the Blue Mountains area. The notion of patient choice is crucial to vaccine discussions. Development of support materials, such as decision resources which give impartial and detailed information while acknowledging and supporting patient choice, are needed to support both CAM practitioners and parents in making informed vaccination decisions.
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