Social research - selected projects

The NCIRS Social Research team undertakes research related to:


Systems And Resources to Address Hesitancy (SARAH)

This study is funded by the Australian Government Department of Health and is a collaboration with a number of researchers and institutions, both nationally and internationally. The project will develop a suite of resources (called Sharing Knowledge About Immunisation, or SKAI) to assist providers in supporting parents in vaccinating their child.

Feasibility study of decision tools to support pregnant women’s decision making about influenza and whooping cough vaccines

This feasibility study aims to assess the feasibility of a suite of shared decision tools designed to assist antenatal care providers and their pregnant patients in immunisation decisions in pregnancy. It is part-funded by the Marie Bashir Institute and the NHMRC Centre for Research Excellence on Immunisation in Under Studied and Special Risk Populations.

Influenza vaccination during pregnancy: a qualitative study of the knowledge, attitudes, beliefs and practices of general practitioners in central and south-western Sydney

This qualitative study explored how general practitioners in the Sydney and South Western Sydney Local Health Districts view influenza immunisation in pregnancy, and how their views inform their immunisation practices with pregnant patients.

This was a collaboration with researchers from the School of Public Health and Community Medicine at the University of NSW, and the Sydney and South Western Sydney Local Health Districts.

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Influenza vaccination during pregnancy: coverage rates and influencing factors in two urban districts in Sydney

This study was a survey of women who delivered a baby in a public hospital in Sydney and South Western Sydney Local Health Districts between June and September 2012, exploring influenza vaccination during their recent pregnancy.

This was a collaboration with researchers from the School of Public Health and Community Medicine at the University of NSW and the Sydney and South Western Sydney Local Health Districts.

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HPV vaccination program implementation in females aged 18–26 years: survey of general practitioners' knowledge, attitudes and practices

This project has surveyed 300 GPs nationwide to identify the barriers and facilitators that GPs experience in delivering HPV vaccination to adult women as part of the catch-up program.

Collaborators include Dr Julia Brotherton at the Victorian Cytology Service; Dr Cath Jackson, University of Leeds; and Dr Lyndal Trevena and Dr Kirsten McCaffery, University of Sydney.

Healthcare worker vaccination

This study investigated healthcare worker attitudes to influenza and vaccination mandates in public hospitals. This project was led by Dr Holly Seale at the Department of Public Health and Community Medicine, University of NSW.

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A review of the implementation of the NSW Health Policy Directive for vaccination of healthcare workers

This project was undertaken by a visiting Fulbright Senior Scholar, Professor Charles Helms, a Professor in the Carver College of Medicine at the University of Iowa and Medical Director of Clinical Quality, Safety and Performance Improvement at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. The project reviewed implementation of the policy of mandatory healthcare worker vaccination that was implemented in New South Wales in January 2007.

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Research project support to immunisation coordinators

Immunisation coordinators from Public Health Networks (formerly Divisions of General Practice) and government regions occasionally request advice on social research projects they wish to undertake. NCIRS provides input into study design, sample, instruments and analysis as required.

Individuals and families

Understanding immunisation knowledge, attitudes and practices among Australian Hajj pilgrims

This study seeks to understand how Australian Hajj pilgrims view and act on preventive health measures, including immunisation. The results of this project will inform interventions aimed at increasing vaccine uptake among pilgrims.

Understanding under-immunisation in children from disadvantaged population groups

This study seeks to better understand why children from disadvantaged population groups are at risk for under-immunisation. It is a collaborative qualitative study which involves researchers from the University of Auckland (Immunisation Advisory Centre), University of Leeds, the University of Sydney and South East Sydney Illawarra Public Health Unit. It is part-funded by the University of Sydney's International Program Development Fund.

Tracking parental attitudes to vaccination

This study tracks changes to parental attitudes to vaccination since 2001. Using population-based data collected via the NSW Health Survey Program, the study measures parental support for vaccination, perceptions of vaccine risk, common concerns about immunisation, and parental ranking of vaccine-preventable diseases by perceived risk. It also investigates demographic predictors and changes in these factors over time.

Systematic review of strategies to improve immunisation coverage in Australia

NCIRS undertook a systematic review of the Australian literature on strategies to improve immunisation coverage. Using both peer-reviewed and grey (unpublished) literature, this study consolidates current evidence of strategies which have been used to improve vaccination coverage across a wide variety of settings and population groups.

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Full table

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Parental attitudes to influenza vaccination of children: a review of the literature

This is a review of the literature on beliefs and attitudes of parents/caregivers to influenza vaccination in children. The study will provide information to assist program delivery, education and communication surrounding influenza prevention.

Influenza in children: perceptions and experiences of caregivers

The social research group are conducting a series of projects nested within the PIVOT trial (Paediatric Influenza Vaccine Outcomes Study). The trial evaluates the impact of vaccinating children in day care centres according to social, economic and health outcomes. The social research aspect involves two studies:

Part 1: Influenza in children: parents' perceptions of the disease and the vaccine

This is a mixed methods study investigating (1) parental beliefs and perceptions about influenza in the context of ideas about germs and contagion, and (2) perceived risks and benefits of influenza immunisation. It includes focus groups with parents undertaken by a PhD candidate, Catherine King, and a survey.

Part 2: Quality of life impact of influenza in families

This study identifies the psychosocial impact of a child's influenza on their families. One aspect compares quality of life scores between caregivers of children with recently diagnosed influenza and those without. The second is a more in-depth exploration of the emotional, social and occupational impact of a child's severe influenza-like illness on primary caregivers via qualitative semi-structured interviews.

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Developing an HPV vaccination educational intervention to be used in a school-based vaccination setting

This project involves the development and evaluation of a multi-faceted intervention that educates adolescents and reduces fear and anxiety about HPV and the HPV vaccine.

Evidence-based decision tool for HPV vaccine and cervical cancer prevention

This study is a collaboration led by Dr Lyndal Trevena at the School of Public Health, University of Sydney, and funded by the NSW Cancer Council. It involves the development and evaluation of an evidence based decision tool for women participating in cancer screening programs. The tool includes an extensive component related to HPV vaccination.

The HPV vaccine program: what determines the success of a school-based approach?

This externally funded study is led by Dr Rachel Skinner, Discipline of Child and Adolescent Health, The Children's Hospital at Westmead, University of Sydney. It is a qualitative study of factors influencing vaccine completion and impact of vaccine on attitudes and behaviours of young people.

Protecting babies from the effects of whooping cough and influenza: a study of maternal and postnatal vaccination behaviours and an educational intervention to improve uptake

Whooping cough and influenza cause illness and death in infants. These diseases can be better controlled with vaccination of mothers but the majority are not getting vaccinated. Getting a more precise picture of how many women receive these vaccines, and the reasons why many don’t, will help to develop better campaigns. This study examined what women think, feel and do about vaccination during pregnancy and after giving birth. The findings of this study were used to develop a suite of shared decision tools to meet the information needs of pregnant women.

Best practices for communicating pertussis booster vaccine recommendations to pregnant women

This study investigates new mothers' awareness, attitudes and behaviours surrounding pertussis vaccination for themselves. It also examines the effect of different message frames. This study is a collaboration with Dr John Sinn at the Royal North Shore Hospital.

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Mass communications, online information and social media

Audit of online vaccination information available to consumers

This study simulated a parental search of immunisation information in Australia using the most commonly used immunisation search terms, as identified by Google Trends, and five different search engines. Sixty-seven websites were assessed for information quality using a standard scoring tool developed using the WHO Global Advisory Committee on Vaccine Safety’s internet immunisation information quality recommendations. This information is being used to inform resource development for Australian parents.

Analysis of an immunisation conversation on Facebook

This pilot study aimed to gain a preliminary understanding of how immunisation conversations play out on social media, and the correctness of the information being propagated.

Australian newspapers' representation of HPV vaccination

Media information about HPV vaccination is likely to affect girls’ and parents’ decisions about vaccination. With the support of a summer scholar, Candy Pang, we conducted a content analysis of 131 Australian news stories published between October 2006 and December 2009. Each story analysed was coded for the main themes of the article; completeness and accuracy of information presented; potential issues and concerns related to HPV vaccination; phrasing, emphasis and language used in the article; and representation of experts.

Seasonal influenza in the news

This project involves an analysis of television news media coverage of seasonal influenza to identify the way messages about the disease and the vaccine are framed. The study forms part of Catherine King's PhD research.

Journalists' experiences and media representation of pandemic influenza in Australia

This is an investigation into how the media construct stories on avian and pandemic influenza to inform the best way to communicate about pandemics to healthcare providers, individuals and families. It includes qualitative in-depth interviews with journalists, editors and news producers in print, radio and television.

Last updated May 2016