Changes to the science program could help improve vaccine adoption, concludes a new study

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The researchers are calling for urgent changes to the GCSE science curriculum to help provide students with sufficient scientific literacy to be able to identify reliable sources and inform their future vaccination decision making.

A recent study by the University of Portsmouth has uncovered new insights into the factors influencing hesitation to immunization in a sample of the British population. The results showed a direct relationship between vaccine confidence and science education levels.

Through a survey of nearly 400 participants, the researchers aimed to investigate whether levels of science literacy and views on social and political issues are associated with different levels of vaccine confidence and concern for COVID-19.

Participants were asked how much they agreed with statements such as:

The study found that participants who studied science up to the GCSE level were more hesitant than those with both lower and higher levels of science education.

Dr. Alessandro Siani, Associate Head (Students) of the University of Portsmouth School of Biological Sciences says that “it is possible that participants who have not studied science in secondary school recognize their lack of knowledge on the subject and tend to seek expert advice on vaccines from qualified personnel such as healthcare professionals. However, those who have taken the GCSE scientific exams may overestimate their expertise in the field and “do their own research,” not always with the right results. “

This study also revealed that participants’ levels of concern about the COVID-19 pandemic varied significantly with both their level of science education and political views. 100% of the participants with the lowest level of science education (primary or lower secondary) agreed with the statement “I am concerned about the current pandemic”, while the participants who studied science at the postgraduate level were the most likely to disagree with it.

Participants with neutral / centrist political views expressed lower confidence than those with a libertarian social position or left-wing economic position. Greater concern about the COVID-19 pandemic has been associated with lower levels of science education, libertarian social views, and leftist economic views.

Dr Siani says that “lack of trust in vaccines had already been identified as one of the top ten threats to global health, even before the COVID-19 pandemic brought the topic of immunization to the front page of world news organizations. When. many countries are still in the grip of the COVID-19 pandemic and limited vaccine adoption is hindering global efforts to overcome the current crisis, this study provides important insights into the factors behind vaccine confidence and concern for pandemic. Considering that the majority of the population does not pursue further science studies after secondary education, the observation that participants who studied science up to the GCSE level show the highest level of hesitation about vaccines should be cause for concern. ” .

The researchers conclude that school curricula should not only be designed to teach students accurate and up-to-date science, but also to equip them with the tools to understand the scientific method, avoid misinformation, and seek reliable, evidence-based science sources. Ensuring that topics of critical public health importance are adequately addressed in secondary school curricula could help improve science literacy and confidence in vaccinations, as well as in the healthcare professionals who administer them.

The research was published in Journal of Preventive Medicine and Hygiene.


The study shows an increase in the acceptance of the COVID-19 vaccine around the world


More information:
Alessandro Siani et al, Political Opinions and Scientific Literacy as Indicators of Vaccine Trust and Concern for COVID-19, Journal of Preventive Medicine and Hygiene (2022). DOI: 10.15167 / 2421-4248 / jpmh2022.63.2.2320

Provided by the University of Portsmouth

Citation: Scientific Program Changes Could Help Improve Vaccine Adoption, Concludes New Study (2022, Aug. 15) Retrieved Aug. 15, 2022 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2022-08-science-syllabus- vaccine-uptake.html

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