Subjective Decision-Making in Healthcare: The Case of Vaccinations

Subhashni Taylor, Nadya Rizk, Frances Quinn, Richard Coll, William McClune, Neil Taylor


Although an understanding of socio-scientific issues is purported to influence and inform individuals’ behavior and decision-making, this may ultimately depend on the level of control any person feels they have to enact change. Current major issues such as global warming and consequent climate change or the production of genetically modified foods, may well appear to be out of the control of individuals. Consequently, people may look to the government to enact legislation to deal with these. However, one area where individuals have almost total control, in most western societies at least, is that of vaccination. In this study, 33 university graduates (largely university lecturers) from science and non-science backgrounds were interviewed in an attempt to ascertain their attitudes to vaccination programs and to determine where they obtained their own information from in relation to vaccinations. The small sample of this inquiry precludes generalisation. However, the preliminary findings indicated that in general, background (science or non-science) did not appear to be a determinant of support for vaccination programs, and although both groups drew on a wide range of information sources about vaccination, the most common sources of information cited by the participants included general practitioners or health care workers. Furthermore, despite being aware of some side effects, they generally had high confidence in vaccine safety.

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