Risk Analysis

Too Scared or Too Capable? Why Do College Students Stay Away from the H1N1 Vaccine?

Journal Article

Although college students were among the populations that had the highest frequency of infection for H1N1 influenza, only 8% of them received H1N1 vaccine this past flu season nationwide. During the peak of this pandemic, information about H1N1 vaccine was widely available. However, knowledge test and behavioral data indicated that most college students were not equipped with basic facts about H1N1 and the H1N1 vaccine. To investigate socio‐psychological factors that might have deterred this high‐risk population from learning about and getting the H1N1 vaccine, this study tested the utility of a risk information seeking model in addressing this health communication problem. Data collected from an online survey of 371 college students showed that respondents seemed to overestimate how much they knew about the vaccine. Risk information seeking, however, positively influenced their intentions to get the vaccine. Results suggested that to communicate effectively to this population, it is important to emphasize the difference between perceived knowledge and actual knowledge, monitor emotional responses to potential risks, and promote getting flu vaccination as a socially desirable behavior.

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