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Sante Publique. 2012 Nov-Dec;24(6):547-60.

[Social representations of vaccination among patients and general practitioners: a study based on hierarchized evocation].

[Article in French]

Author information

  • 1Departement de medecine generale, Universite de Lyon, Lyon, france.


In France, there is a discrepancy between perceptions and practices related to vaccination, the causes of which are poorly understood. The purpose of this study was to examine and compare patients' and physicians' social representations of vaccination. A qualitative study based on hierarchized evocation was conducted on a sample of 30 patients and 30 general practitioners. The participants were asked to write down seven words or word groups (word associations) induced by the concept of "vaccination" and to rank them in order of importance. The associations were grouped by theme and sub-theme. Their frequency, connotations and importance were compared between the two groups. The results show that, overall, the physicians had a positive view of vaccination, while the patients had a more neutral view (polarity index: + 0.38 vs + 0.07, p < 0.01). Among both patients and general practitioners, vaccination tends to be perceived as a form of medical care mainly targeting children and aimed at prevention, and its effectiveness is considered to be implicit. However, the patients appeared to be more concerned about the potential side effects of certain vaccinations, while the GPs emphasized the harmlessness of vaccination. The participating GPs also tended to take a collective view of vaccination, while some patients criticized the lack of targeted vaccinations. Better communication on these key aspects of representations may help to increase confidence in vaccination and to close the gap between perception and practice.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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