First year allopathic medical student attitudes about vaccination and vaccine hesitancy

Emily Onello, Samantha Friedrichsen, Kristine Krafts, Glenn Simmons, Kevin Diebel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


First year medical students at an allopathic medical school regional campus were asked to complete a 10-question survey at both the beginning and the conclusion of a required course on immunology, hematology and oncology. The survey was designed to solicit student attitudes about vaccination and the students’ level of comfort with and exposure to vaccine hesitant patients. Surveys were administered to five consecutive classes from 2013 to 2017. Total response rate for completion of both surveys was 58.0% (178/307). Pre- and post-course surveys were administered to assess whether curricular experiences altered the students’ perceptions about vaccinations and their ability to counsel vaccine hesitant patients. Curricular elements were presented in several different formats aimed at increasing student knowledge about vaccinations and student capacity to work with vaccine hesitant patients and families (problem-based learning, didactic lecture and interactive panel discussion). In the pre-survey, the majority of students reported having already encountered people who decline vaccinations (78.8%). Additionally, in the pre-survey the majority of medical students expressed strong support for vaccination (99.6% agreed with the statement that Vaccinations are a great public health accomplishment) and strong disagreement with both of the assertions that childhood vaccines cause autism and vaccine preservatives cause adverse health effects. In response to questions about comfort level while talking with patients about vaccine choices, baseline responses demonstrated a moderately high level of comfort. Post-course surveys revealed a statistically significant increase in student-rated comfort level in talking with patients about vaccine choices (pre-survey 79.2% report comfort versus post 97.8%; p < 0.001). Though this study is limited to student self-reporting, survey responses suggest that targeted curricular elements can improve medical student confidence in counseling patients about vaccinations. Future curricular elements designed to directly observe student performance could provide verification of counseling skill acquisition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)808-814
Number of pages7
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 22 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Elsevier Ltd


  • Medical student education
  • Vaccine attitudes
  • Vaccine hesitancy

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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