Nurses' Perspectives on the Dismissal of Vaccine-Refusing Families From Pediatric and Family Care Practices.

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DOI: 10.1177/0890117120906971


PURPOSE: Dismissal of families who refuse mandated childhood vaccines from pediatric practices has become more common among US pediatricians over the past 2 decades. While nurses (registered nurses [RNs] and advanced practice registered nurses [APRNs]) often are the first health-care professional to encounter parents' vaccine hesitancy and serve as a primary source of information, there are no published data on nurses' perspectives on dismissal as a response to vaccine refusal. This study examined nurses' perspectives on dismissal of vaccine-refusing families from primary care practices.

DESIGN: Cross-sectional survey administered electronically from February to September 2018. Data analysis was conducted from November 2018 to March 2019.

SETTING: Data were collected electronically from a national sample of nurses.

SUBJECTS: A convenience sample of 488 primary care nurses (74% APRNs) was recruited and enrolled in the study through collaboration with 4 professional nursing associations.

MEASURE AND ANALYSIS: A cross-sectional survey was conducted from February to September 2018. We explored correlates of nurses' (n = 488) attitudes toward dismissal by modeling attitude scores as a function of practice and respondent characteristics. We also modeled odds of encountering vaccine refusal and odds of reporting dismissal of a vaccine-refusing family in the last 12 months, each as a function of respondents' practice characteristics.

RESULTS: Eighty-four percent of respondents encountered vaccine refusal in the previous 12 months, and 22% reported that their practice had dismissed a vaccine-refusing family within the previous 12 months. Twenty-eight percent agreed/strongly agreed that they would dismiss or support a decision to dismiss families who refuse all vaccines, and 12% supported dismissal of families for refusal of some but not all vaccines. Thirty-nine percent of respondents disagreed/strongly disagreed with dismissing families who refuse all vaccines, and 50% disagreed/strongly disagreed with dismissal for refusal of some but not all.

CONCLUSION: Almost all nurses working in primary care encounter vaccine refusal, and most consider all Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-recommended childhood vaccines to be important to public health. There is significant polarization of nurses' attitudes toward the appropriateness of dismissal as a response to vaccine refusal. We recommend the development of professional nursing guidelines for responding to vaccine refusal. However, because there are no data on the community health impact of dismissal policies, we recommend further research on outcomes of dismissal policies to inform such guidelines.

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American journal of health promotion : AJHP





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dismissal of vaccine-refusing families; nursing practice; primary care; vaccine hesitancy

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