Date of Award

1999

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science Honours

Faculty

Faculty of Communications, Health and Science

First Advisor

Dr Monica Leggett

Abstract

Demographic data on the immunization status of Australia indicates that Western Australia has relatively low immunization coverage for whooping cough. Australian quantitative studies have been carried out on parental attitudes in Australia towards immunization, but there has been no analysis of parents' reasons for their decisions. This study identified the key issues that influenced the decisions made by the target group of parents and explored their decision-making in more depth. The data from this study could also be used to supplement the information currently available to health workers. Eight participants with children between the ages of 2 months and 6 years were recruited from Edith Cowan University, Mount Lawley Campus via posters. These parents were interviewed individually for approximately one hour, using a semi-structured interview technique. Their personal experiences with immunization were discussed. To facilitate the discussion and explore parents' understanding of the nature of disease, participants were shown a series of picture; and pamphlets relating to immunization. For the group interviewed, the most important influences on their decisions to immunize their children were their family tradition, and the Federal government's incentive for new parents to encourage them to fully immunize their newborn children. Parents repeatedly discussed these two areas and stressed their importance. Once parents had been influenced towards their decision by one of these factors, the information given by medical authorities further reinforced their decision. Initially, it was expected that other factors such as education, Health Department information and parents' personal models of immunity, would have played important roles in parents' decisions concerning immunization. However for the parents in this study, these factors had minimal effect on their decision-making processes.

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