Covid-19 vaccine

Public trust crucial to vaccine campaign success, research shows

New research has highlighted how crucial it is that people have faith in health leaders and the wider NHS system, after experts revealed public trust was key in the uptake of the Covid-19 vaccine.

A University of Edinburgh study of more than 4,400 adults between 16 to 31 July 2021 found that the highest uptake of vaccination was linked to getting information from the NHS or a GP.

Seeking help on social media, which the researchers say was more prevalent in younger adults, was associated with a lower likelihood of being, or intending to be, vaccinated.

According to the research, which was published in the Journal of Health Services Research & Policy, the vast majority (85%) of people were most likely to trust the NHS. Trust in family in friends (79%) and scientists (77%) came close behind.

“…our findings could highlight the need for the UK and devolved governments to value the importance of public trust…”

Less than half (48%) of those surveyed had confidence in information from the UK Government, although this was significantly higher for the respective governments in Wales (64%) and Scotland (63%). Trust was lowest (40%) in Northern Ireland.

The university says trust in the government scaled with age, with only a third (35%) of the youngest surveyed age group having confidence in government advice, which compares to most (62%) over 65s.

Religious leaders were trusted least in general with only around a quarter relying on them.

Overall, those who put their faith in information from the NHS were three times as likely to have been vaccinated. Trust in scientists was the second biggest predictor of vaccination.

In the same way trust in government scaled with age, so did actual vaccination status – people aged 65 and over were four times more likely to be jabbed than the youngest group. The least likely were respondents from the 25-34 demographic.

The data from the study emphasises the need for policy-makers to acknowledge how public trust impacts engagement in public health campaigns.

Dr Valeria Skafida, from the University of Edinburgh’s school of social and political science, noted how the findings contrast with previous studies that suggest most people think the standard of care in the NHS is getting worse.

She said: “Overall, our findings could highlight the need for the UK and devolved governments to value the importance of public trust in the health system and take appropriate measures to preserve such trust.”

Image credit: iStock

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