University of Hertfordshire

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Original languageEnglish
JournalHealth Education and Behavior
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 29 Oct 2021


Pregnant women are at increased risk of complications from flu, but uptake of flu vaccination is below national targets of 75%. Evidence suggests that changing illness risk appraisals may be an effective strategy for increasing vaccination behaviour. In 2018-19, a team of researchers, public health specialists, and pregnant women co-designed a short, animated video targeting (unhelpful) beliefs underlying pregnant women’s risk appraisals of flu with the aim of promoting vaccination uptake.
This study aimed to examine the effectiveness of a digital intervention (a short animation) in increasing flu vaccination uptake amongst pregnant women through changing illness risk appraisals.
A prospective study design was used. Participants were a convenience sample of unvaccinated pregnant women recruited via a Qualtrics Online Panel. Participants received a small payment via the panel company for survey completion. Risk appraisals and intention to vaccinate were measured at baseline and immediately after presentation of the intervention (follow-up one). Approximately six months later, a further survey (follow-up two) was administered to measure vaccination behaviour.
The baseline and the first follow-up survey were completed by 411 participants. The second follow-up survey was completed by 67 participants. Watching the animation led to an increase in women’s appraisals of the likelihood of getting flu whist pregnant and of the severity of flu during pregnancy, and also increased intentions to have the flu vaccination during pregnancy. Of the 67 respondents who completed the follow-up survey, 38 reported having the vaccination whilst pregnant.
This study provides evidence that supports the promise of the intervention. An RCT is however required to produce definitive evidence of efficacy. Should such a study prove the intervention to be effective, it could be readily embedded within existing social media campaigns delivered at national and local levels by public health organisations in the UK.

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