Researchers explore ways to boost immunisation rates

A team from the University’s Adult Literacy and Communication Research Group is developing new ways for health professionals to deliver immunisation messages to mothers-to-be.

They tested ways of getting the message across – including an illustrative flip chart and fridge magnet – as part of a study to improve communication.

Their research showed too much emphasis was currently placed on brochures, which remained largely unread. But nearly three-quarters (73 per cent) of the pregnant women who were given a fridge magnet displayed it at home and said it was a useful reminder.  All 31 of these new mothers had fully immunised their children by three months, compared to 28 in the control group.

The study was led by Associate Professor Margie Comrie and managed by Dr Niki Murray, of the University’s School of Communication, Journalism and Marketing.

Dr Murray says the control group, who were not shown the flipchart or magnet and received other information as normal, were more likely to have little or no recall of the information given to them. “The intervention group, however, who saw the flipchart and were given a magnet, were more likely to have confident recall, recalling three or more items of information without prompting,” she says.

The magnet and flip chart use simple wording and photographs as well as a reminder of due dates, freephone telephone numbers and websites for further information. “We have taken care to talk through the process of an immunisation visit, what can be expected and what parents might be concerned about,” Dr Comrie says.

The group has recommended information is delivered in a factual way, covering the basics as part of a discussion stimulated by a flipchart tool. They say it should be presented twice, at 28-30 weeks and post-natally three or four weeks after the baby is born. Work is continuing to develop these resources further with a larger sample of participants.

Professor Frank Sligo, Dr Elspeth Tilley and Dr Bronwyn Watson – all members of the University’s Adult Literacy and Communication Research Group – were also involved in the project, which was funded by the Ministry of Health and the Health Research Council of New Zealand.

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