Volume 35, Issue 37, Pages 4825-5080 (5 September 2017)
Benevolent personification of the MoH increases compliance with an emergency polio vaccination
Original Research Article
Golan Shahar, Gal Noyman-Veksler, Shai Itamar, David Greenberg, Itamar Grotto
Parental compliance is crucial to the success of mass vaccination campaigns targeting children. Relying on psychological/neuroscientific research concerning the role of personification (i.e., viewing the inanimate as human) in behavior, the authors examined the effect of parents’ personification of the Israeli Ministry of Health (MoH) on compliance with a publicly controversial mass vaccination campaign, which was aimed at stopping the spread of a wild poliovirus.
Participants were 555 parents of children aged 9 or younger, residing in the center/north of Israel, an area covered by Phase 2 of the campaign. T1 assessment, employed two days prior to Phase 2, tapped into demographics, attitudes towards vaccination, intent to comply, and a benevolent personification of the MoH (i.e., “The MoH is caring”) vs. a malevolent personification of the MoH (“The MoH is hysteric”). T2 assessment, transpiring four months after the end of the campaign, addressed presence and reasons for (non-)compliance.
The study’s overall compliance rate was 61.8%. The principal reason for compliance was “adherence to the recommendations of the MoH” (68.49%). In a multivariate logistic regression analysis, prospective predictors of compliance were: an early intent to comply (O.R. = 2.56, p = 0.000), being male (O. R. = 1.51, p = 0.023), and a benevolent personification of the MoH (O.R. = 1.21, p = 0.019).
Parents who experienced the Israeli MoH as a benevolent protagonist were more likely to comply with the mass vaccination campaign. Findings highlight the role of leadership in public health campaigns during emergencies.