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26-29 May 2015
Europe/Berlin timezone
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Contribution Research-in-Progress Paper

Fürstenberghaus -
22 - Digital Health Initiatives

Should I Get That Jab? Exploring Influence to Encourage Vaccination via Online Social Media


  • David LANGLEY

Primary authors

  • David LANGLEY (TNO Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research)


  • Remco WIJN (TNO Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research)
  • Sacha EPSKAMP (Department of Psychologial Methods, University of Amsterdam)
  • Riet VAN BORK (Department of Psychologial Methods, University of Amsterdam)


This paper explores the suitability of online social media (OSM) as a means of influencing the public’s decision-making process regarding vaccinations, specifically a vaccination to protect girls against HPV, a virus associated with cervical cancer. Using the Health Belief Model (HBM), we carry out an experimental study of the influence of cues to action, and of other’s opinions, via OSM, on the parents’ attitude towards the vaccine and on their intention to vaccinate. Analyses revealed no effect of our experimental manipulations of the different cues to action on their vaccination decision. However, using an exploratory novel network analysis, we find that the HBM does not adequately account for influence via OSM. Specifically we show that vaccination decisions are not taken in social isolation, a fact thus far ignored by various forms of the HBM. These tentative findings may guide alternative approaches for influencing the public’s decision-making process. Implications for studies assessing the use of online channels for health communication are discussed.