Volume 109 Pages 1-124 (April 2018)
A survey instrument for measuring vaccine acceptance
Original research article
Dilshani Sarathchandra, Mark C. Navin, Mark A. Largent, Aaron M. McCright
Accurately measuring vaccine acceptance is important, especially under current conditions in which misinformation may increase public anxiety about vaccines and politicize vaccination policies. We integrated substantive knowledge, conceptualization and measurement expertise, and survey design principles to develop an instrument for measuring vaccine acceptance across the general public. Given this broad goal, we expect our novel instrument will complement, rather than replace, existing instruments designed specifically to measure parents’ vaccine hesitancy. Our instrument measures five key facets of vaccine acceptance: (1) perceived safety of vaccines; (2) perceived effectiveness and necessity of vaccines; (3) acceptance of the selection and scheduling of vaccines; (4) positive values and affect toward vaccines; and (5) perceived legitimacy of authorities to require vaccinations. We report results of analyses demonstrating the reliability and validity of this instrument. High Cronbach’s alpha values for five sub-scales and for the full scale indicate the instrument’s reliability, and the consistent performance of expected predictors (i.e., trust in biologists, conspiratorial ideation, and political ideology) demonstrates the instrument’s construct validity. Further, scientific reasoning increases vaccine acceptance among liberals but decreases vaccine acceptance among conservatives, which is consistent with motivated cognition. Also, trust in biologists has a stronger positive effect on vaccine acceptance among conservatives than among liberals, signaling a potentially promising means to reduce political polarization on vaccines and increase vaccine acceptance across the general public. We end by identifying key ways that public health researchers, science studies scholars, and health practitioners may employ the full (or short) version of our vaccine acceptance instrument.