The effect of patient education on pediatric immunization rates.
BACKGROUND: Over the last decade, the immunization rate among preschool children has decreased, especially in the lower socioeconomic population. During this period, reports of outbreaks of immunizable diseases, especially pertussis and measles, have correspondingly increased. This study was designed to evaluate the effect of a brief patient education encounter with new mothers on pediatric immunization rates. METHODS: Two hundred thirty-eight mothers and infants were assigned to an intervention or control group. On the first day postpartum, the mothers in the intervention group participated in a 10- to 15-minute discussion on the importance of immunizations and were given a patient education handout. A reminder letter was mailed to the intervention group at 2 months postpartum. The control group received no special intervention. Infants were followed for their 2- and 4-month immunizations for diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus and oral polio vaccine (DPT/OPV). At 1 year of age, the infants' immunization records were assessed for the completion of their first three DPT/OPV immunizations. RESULTS: There was no statistically significant difference, by chi-square analysis, in the immunization rates of the control and intervention groups at 2, 4, or 12 months of age. At 1 year of age, 29 of 122 (24%) of the control group had received all three DPT/OPV immunizations, compared with 33 (28%) of 116 infants in the intervention group. CONCLUSIONS: Concordant with similar studies, the immunization rate among infants of parents of lower socioeconomic status (26%) is low. An educational intervention presented to mothers in the postpartum period did not improve the rate of immunization by the age of 12 months. There are undoubtedly several reasons for this failure. Other means to improve immunization rates of infants should be developed and tested.
Oeffinger, KC; Roaten, SP; Hitchcock, MA; Oeffinger, PK
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