How we change what others think, feel, believe and do
The ChangingMinds Blog!
Imagine you are a government agency trying to persuade people to adopt a particular healthcare approach, how should you do it? Studies have shown that many are suspicious of government communications and are more likely to believe in alternative sources.
A case in point is some poor UK research that linked MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) injections for children to autism. It caused a huge decline in parents taking up the treatment and, even though it eventually led to the dismissal of the doctor involved, the caution continued with only 85% take-up.
In a study of parent attitudes, Benjamin Gardner and colleagues, five key points were identified:
1. Parents didn't have enough information, especially about the hazards of not vaccinating.
2. Government sources were not trusted.
3. Other parents were trusted.
4. There was a bias towards risk-related information.
5. Pro- and anti-MMR arguments were given equal weighting (even though scientific evidence massively confirms the value of MMR vaccination).
These point to ways such government campaigns can be improved, such as with parent-fronted apparently independent presentations that present data needed and counter biases. It also shows the power of research-based promotion as opposed to using traditional wisdoms.
A huge area of distrust is that the 'studies' carried out to prove the
'safety' and efficacy of these vaccines is too often funded by the drug
companies themselves. It is so easy to misrepresent facts and figures without
'lying' that research can be made to appear something it is not.