Psychological and mental health determinants of COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy and vaccine resistance

This pilot aims to deliver a comprehensive psychological description of groups who differed in their vaccine intentions in the months just before vaccines became available to them utilizing a cohort on all 1037 births  (1972-1973) in one city from the Dunedin Study in New Zealand.  Public health professionals aspire to tailor pro-vaccination messaging to the values,  motives, lifestyles, and background of people who are hesitant or resistant toward vaccination. This tailoring has called for a “marketing approach” to messaging. However, there is a wide social gap between highly-educated public health professionals and most unvaccinated citizens, who tend to be secondary-school educated, or less. This gap impedes effective messaging. For example, prior US  surveys report that unvaccinated individuals tend to be Republicans, or southerners, or not college graduates, but these are crude proxies for people’s actual beliefs, attitudes, preferences, cognitive abilities, and motivations. This pilot harnesses psychologically rich prospective data from a 5-decade longitudinal cohort study to provide insights about the personal psychologies associated with vaccine-hesitance and vaccine-resistance, and whether those personal psychologies emerged early in life and are longstanding. Dunedin cohort members have  reported whether they definitely or probably intended to be vaccinated ; definitely or probably did not intend to be vaccinated, or did not know enough to decide. The pilot will compare these 3 groups on prospective antecedents of vaccine intentions, including: (1) adverse childhood experiences;  (2) adolescent personality and locus of control over health; (3) cognitive abilities and health knowledge and comprehension of health concepts; and  (4) detailed mental disorder histories. 

Academic Year
2022-2023
Duke Principal Investigator(s)
Primary Funding Agency
NIA/CPHA Pilot
Award Year