Content attributes of vaccine promotion websites as compared to claims made by anti-vaccine groups

Alma G Ochoa, The University of Texas School of Public Health


The purpose of this Internet-based literature review was to assess the quality and accuracy of online child vaccine promotion materials in: (1) addressing the most common claims made my anti-vaccine groups based on a recent review of unsupported claims promoted on anti-vaccination websites and (2) maintaining the information on the websites at or below a seventh-grade reading level Seven websites were identified through the literature and consideration of leading health authorities as being reliable sources of vaccine information. A recent content and design analysis of anti-vaccination websites was used to identify the top six claims that were included in this study. ^ A coding guide was developed to code each website’s content in addressing the anti-vaccination claims. An item was included on the coding guide to determine whether websites clearly addressed parents. FAQ sections were included in the analysis as a method of addressing anti-vaccine claims. Additionally, the quality and readability of information included on the pro-vaccination websites was analyzed using the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level assessment. Based on this assessment, a grade-level reading level was assigned to the home page and FAQ section for each website. Data from the code sheets were entered into a database and basic logic checks were conducted to ensure the quality of the data. ^ All of the claims were addressed by 57% or less of the sites analyzed. Two of the pro-vaccination websites failed to address any anti-vaccination claims. All of the websites analyzed were found to present information at or above an 8th grade reading level based on the analysis of the home pages, with the average grade-level being 10.9. Only two websites included an FAQ section with the average grade-level being 10.1 for these sections. ^ This analysis detailed the work that is needed to improve reliable pro-vaccination websites in effectively addressing misinformation that continues to be propagated by anti-vaccination websites. It is no longer sufficient to simply educate parents on the safety and benefits of vaccines. It is time to explore the benefits of addressing vaccine fears and concerns by partnering with parents and members of the community. In response to the increasing number of outbreaks today, this change needs to happen sooner than later.^

Subject Area

Medicine|Public health|Web studies

Recommended Citation

Ochoa, Alma G, "Content attributes of vaccine promotion websites as compared to claims made by anti-vaccine groups" (2015). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI1598348.