Family physician acceptance of universal hepatitis B immunization of infants.
BACKGROUND: The incidence of hepatitis B infection has risen 37% over the last decade; 300,000 new infections and 5000 deaths occur annually in the United States. Because immunization programs that targeted high-risk groups failed to abate this increase, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommended in November 1991 universal hepatitis B immunization of infants. Details were published in an addendum to Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. The purpose of this study was to assess (1) the effectiveness of the CDC in disseminating a new immunization recommendation to family physicians, (2) the effect of the new recommendation on clinical practice, and (3) the degree to which noneconomic barriers may affect adoption of universal hepatitis B immunization. METHODS: A random sample of 300 family physicians in North Carolina was surveyed by mail. Descriptive statistics and chi-square analysis were used to assess the relationship of variables hypothesized to predict physician awareness of, and agreement with, the new recommendation. RESULTS: The response rate was 78%. Overall, 48% of family physicians who administered immunizations to children were aware of the new hepatitis B vaccine recommendation. However, only 17% agreed that it was warranted for all newborns in their practice. Twenty-five percent expected more than one half of the parents to refuse three injections at a single well-child visit, a result of adding this vaccine to the current primary immunization schedule. Additionally, 42% expected nurses to resist giving three injections at one visit. CONCLUSIONS: The CDC does not have an effective mechanism for disseminating information to all physicians who care for children. Improved coordination of recommendations between the CDC and relevant specialty societies may help to increase physician adoption of new immunization recommendations in their clinical practice. Additionally, practical concerns of physicians and their patients regarding multiple injections and other practice-relevant issues must be considered when formulating new immunization recommendations, if their implementation is to be successful. Additional research is needed to determine effective methods to disseminate immunization information and to address practical concerns of clinicians.
Freed, GL; Bordley, WC; Clark, SJ; Konrad, TR
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