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Steinau an der Strasse, Germany

The University of Erfurt is a public university located in Erfurt, Germany. Originally founded in 1389, the university was closed in 1816 for the next 177 years. In 1994, three years after the reunification of Germany, the university was re-established. Wikipedia.

Betsch C.,University of Erfurt
Eurosurveillance | Year: 2011

This paper provides a psychological perspective on the possible effect of the Internet on the decision against vaccination. The reported importance of the Internet in health decisions is still low, but rising; especially the amount of interactive use of the Internet is increasing, e.g. due to the use of social media. It is argued that the fact that individuals do not report the Internet to be an important source of information does not necessarily mean that the information obtained in their Internet searches is not influential in their decisions. Evidence is summarised here regarding the (anti-)vaccination information on the Internet, and its influence on risk perceptions and on vaccination intentions and behaviour in relation to the encoded information. The conclusion suggests that scholars should strive to explain the underlying processes and potential mediators of vaccination decisions to increase the effectiveness of health communication. In reference to a definition of evidence-based medicine, a great future challenge lies in evidence-based public health communication based on interdisciplinary research involving public health, medical research, communication science and psychology. Source

Betsch C.,University of Erfurt | Sachse K.,TU Berlin
Health Psychology | Year: 2013

Objective: Information about risks is often contradictory, especially in the health domain. A vast amount of bizarre information on vaccine-adverse events (VAE) can be found on the Internet; most are posted by antivaccination activists. Several actors in the health sector struggle against these statements by negating claimed risks with scientific explanations. The goal of the present work is to find optimal ways of negating risk to decrease risk perceptions. Methods: In two online experiments, we varied the extremity of risk negations and their source. Perception of the probability of VAE, their expected severity (both variables serve as indicators of perceived risk), and vaccination intentions. Results: Paradoxically, messages strongly indicating that there is "no risk" led to a higher perceived vaccination risk than weak negations. This finding extends previous work on the negativity bias, which has shown that information stating the presence of risk decreases risk perceptions, while information negating the existence of risk increases such perceptions. Several moderators were also tested; however, the effect occurred independently of the number of negations, recipient involvement, and attitude. Solely the credibility of the information source interacted with the extremity of risk negation: For credible sources (governmental institutions), strong and weak risk negations lead to similar perceived risk, while for less credible sources (pharmaceutical industries) weak negations lead to less perceived risk than strong negations. Conclusions: Optimal risk negation may profit from moderate rather than extreme formulations as a source's trustworthiness can vary. © 2012 American Psychological Association. Source

Betsch C.,University of Erfurt
Eurosurveillance | Year: 2014

Vaccination reduces the risk of becoming infected with and transmitting pathogens. The role of healthcare workers (HCWs) in controlling and limiting nosocomial infections has been stressed repeatedly. This has also been recognised at a political level, leading the European Council of Ministers in 2009 to encourage coverage of 75% seasonal influenza vaccine in HCWs. Although there are policies, recommendations and well-tolerated vaccines, still many HCWs refuse to get vaccinated. This article uses literature from psychology and behavioural economics to understand vaccination decisions and the specific situation of HCWs. HCWs are expected to be highly motivated to protect others. However, their individual vaccination decisions follow the same principles (of weighting individual risks) as everyone else’s vaccination decisions. This will lead to decisional conflict in a typical social dilemma situation, in which individual interests are at odds with collective interests. Failure to get vaccinated may be the result. If we understand the motivations and mechanisms of HCWs’ vaccine refusal, interventions and campaigns may be designed more effectively. Strategies to increase HCWs’ vaccine uptake should be directed towards correcting skewed risk perceptions and activating pro-social motivation in HCWs. © 2014, European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). All rights reserved. Source

Background: The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the elimination of measles as a global goal. According to the WHO, one critical challenge for countries such as Germany is managing perceptions and misperceptions about vaccination. Criticism and misinformation about vaccines are widespread, e.g., on the Internet, and they support the development of misperceptions, vaccine hesitancy, and fear. By contrast, owing to vaccination the actual incidence of measles is low and hardly anyone is familiar with measles as a severely infectious disease. This may lead to the incorrect perception of measles as a harmless children's disease. Education on the risks of infection and of vaccination should therefore be combined with effective debunking of misperceptions, both of which should govern the management of perceptions and misperceptions. Aim: The objective of this contribution is to propose and discuss several approaches with respect to the Janus-like role of the Internet: On the one hand, it serves as a source of anti-vaccination misinformation and is therefore responsible for the development of misperceptions. On the other hand, it can serve as the ideal platform for health agencies to educate the public and to debunk misinformation. Conclusion: This contribution suggests how an effective management of perceptions and misperceptions can take place on different levels of communication and how the Internet may be actively used to reach this goal. A collection of Internet links for patients and health-care personnel are recommended. © 2013 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg. Source

Betsch C.,University of Erfurt | Wicker S.,Goethe University Frankfurt
Vaccine | Year: 2012

Objective: was to improve understanding of mechanisms contributing to healthcare personnel's (HCP) reluctance to get vaccinated against seasonal influenza. We assessed the role of several drivers: vaccination knowledge, vaccination recommendations and the role of the Internet (so-called e-health) in creating vaccination knowledge. The key mechanism under consideration was the perceived own risk (regarding disease and the vaccine). Method: 310 medical students at the Frankfurt University Hospital answered an anonymous questionnaire assessing risk perceptions, intentions to get vaccinated, knowledge, preferences regarding information sources for personal health decisions and search-terms that they would use in a Google-search directed at seasonal influenza vaccination. Results: The key driver of vaccination intentions was the perceived own risk (of contracting influenza and of suffering from vaccine adverse events). The recommendation to get vaccinated was a significant, yet weaker predictor. As an indirect driver we identified one's knowledge concerning vaccination. 32% of the knowledge questions were answered incorrectly or as don't know. 64% of the students were e-health users; therefore, additional information search via the Internet was likely. An analysis of the websites obtained by googling the search-terms provided by the students revealed 30% commercial e-health websites, 11% anti-vaccination websites and 10% public health websites. Explicit searches for vaccination risks led to fewer public health websites than searches without risk as a search term. Content analysis of the first three websites obtained revealed correct information regarding the questions of whether the doses of vaccine additives were dangerous, whether chronic diseases are triggered by vaccines and whether vaccines promote allergies in 58%, 53% and 34% of the websites, respectively. These questions were especially related to own risk, which strongly predicted intentions. Correct information on vaccination recommendations were provided on 85% of the websites. Conclusion: Concentrating on the key drivers in early medical education (own risk of contracting influenza, vaccine safety, vaccination recommendation) promises to be a successful combination to increase vaccination uptake in HCP. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd. Source

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