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Journal of Medical Internet Research





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Background: Immunizing children throughout their early years prevents the spread of communicable disease and decreases the morbidity and mortality associated with many vaccine-preventable diseases. Searching online allows individuals rapid access to health information. Objective: The purpose of this review was to develop an understanding of the existing literature of parents’ online health information-seeking behaviors to inform their vaccination choices for their children and to identify gaps in the literature around parents’ use of online health information and their vaccination choices. Methods: A scoping review of peer-reviewed literature from Canada and the United States was performed. The following databases were utilized to perform the search: PubMed, CINAHL, Nursing & Allied Health Database, Scopus, and PsycINFO. The purpose of this review was to examine parents’ use of online information seeking related to vaccine information and to understand how parents utilize this information to inform decisions about vaccinating their children. Of the 34 papers included in the review, 4 relevant themes and subthemes were identified: information seeking, online information resources, online vaccine content, and trust in health care providers. Results: Examination of the literature revealed conflicting information regarding parents’ use of social media and online resources to inform decisions around vaccinating their children. There is evidence of significant misinformation regarding vaccine risks online. Parents’ digital health literacy levels are unknown and may affect their ability to appraise online vaccination information. Conclusions: Parents are seeking vaccine information from online sources. However, the influence of online vaccine information on parental vaccine practices remains uncertain.


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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Citation of this paper:

Ashfield S, Donelle L Parental Online Information Access and Childhood Vaccination Decisions in North America: Scoping Review J Med Internet Res 2020;22(10):e20002 URL: DOI: 10.2196/20002

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