Table 1

Strategies for physicians to maintain positive relationships with antivaccine parents

PSYCHOLOGICAL PRINCIPLEPHYSICIAN STRATEGY
Naïve realism
People assume that their understanding of the world is correct.Ensure that you understand what parents are saying when they raise the issue of vaccinations. Are they decidedly antivaccine, or are they seeking reassurance? Tailor your approach accordingly.
Reactance
When faced with information or arguments that threaten a deeply held belief, people will often strengthen that belief.When parents raise doubts about vaccines, don’t react in an aggressive or dramatic fashion. This will often cause parents to solidify their opinions in the opposite direction.
Precedence of negative information
When forming impressions or making decisions, people often give greater weight to negative information than to positive information.Don’t let your discussions about vaccination escalate into an argument that could taint your future interactions with the parents.
Attributions
People generate explanations for the motives behind others’ behaviour. These attributions are often consistent with prior impressions of the individual’s character.Maintain a positive relationship with all families. Parents will explain your behaviour in ways that are consistent with their prior experiences with you. If their prior interactions with you were positive, they will attribute your actions around vaccination to more positive motives.
Superordinate goals
The motives or ideals that 2 people or groups have in common. Belief in superordinate goals is a component of trust and can be used as a conflict-resolution technique.Make sure that parents understand that you are sincerely concerned for their children’s health and welfare. Let this serve as a reminder that this ideal is something you and the parents have in common. It positions you and the parents on the same side, as opposed to being adversaries.