Objective. This article describes the results of a community-based study to determine the effect of family knowledge and attitudes on the immunization rates of a random sample of children younger than 2 years in the poorest census tracts of Baltimore.
Design and Methods. The two sources of data were (1) parent interviews that provided data on knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs related to immunization and sociodemographic characteristics, and (2) medical record audits from which data on immunization status were obtained. The protection motivation theory, a model of behavioral change, was used to select the variables to assess the relation of parental attitudes with immunization status. A multivariate logistic regression analysis included only variables found to be significantly associated with immunization outcome in the preliminary analysis.
Results. Mothers were well informed and generally had favorable attitudes toward immunizations. Immunization status was more strongly associated with the sociodemographic characteristics of the children than with the protection motivation theory variables. Only two protection motivation theory variables were associated with more than one immunization outcome. The children of mothers who perceived that timing of vaccination did not matter were less likely to be immunized than children of care takers who thought that it did matter and children whose parents believed in the safety of multiple immunizations were less likely to be immunized than children whose parents did not hold this belief.
Conclusions. In this study, parents' attitudes and beliefs had little effect on their children's immunization levels. Interventions intended to heighten parental awareness about immunization may have little impact. In poor urban neighborhoods, African-American children whose mothers are young, have multiple siblings, and do not use the Women, Infants and Children program may be at highest risk for delayed immunization.
- Received December 14, 1995.
- Accepted February 20, 1996.
- Copyright © 1996 by the American Academy of Pediatrics