Background: Increasing life expectancy results in a larger proportion of older people susceptible to vaccine preventable diseases (VPDs). In the Netherlands, influenza vaccination is routinely offered to people aged 60 years and older. Vaccination against pneumococcal disease, herpes zoster and pertussis is rarely used. These vaccines will be evaluated by the Dutch Health Council and might be routinely offered to older people in the near future. Possible expansion of the program depends partly on the willingness of general practitioners (GPs) to endorse additional vaccinations. In this study, we assessed predictors of GPs' attitude and intention to vaccinate people aged 60 years and older.
Methods: GPs (N = 12.194) were invited to fill in an online questionnaire consisting of questions about social cognitive factors that can influence the willingness of GPs to vaccinate people aged 60 years and older, including underlying beliefs, practical considerations of adding more vaccines to the national program, demographics, and GPs' patient population characteristics. The questionnaire was filled in by 732 GPs.
Results: GPs were positive both about vaccination as a preventive tool and the influenza vaccination program, but somewhat less positive about expanding the current program. Prediction analysis showed that the intention of GPs to offer additional vaccination was predicted by their attitude towards offering additional vaccination, towards vaccination as a preventive tool, towards offering vaccination during an outbreak and on GPs opinion regarding suitability to offer additional vaccination (R-2 = 0.60). The attitude of GPs towards offering additional vaccination was predicted by the perceived severity of herpes zoster and pneumonia, as well as the perceived incidence of herpes zoster. Severity of diseases was ranked as important argument to recommend vaccination, followed by effectiveness and health benefits of vaccines.
Conclusion: Providing GPs with evidence-based information about the severity and prevalence of diseases, and effectiveness and health benefits of the vaccines, together with an active role of GPs in informing older people about vaccines, could modify the intention towards additional vaccination of people 60 years and older.
- General practitioners
- Older people
- Herpes zoster
- Social cognitive predictors