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Simons Foundation Powering Autism Research for Knowledge-SPARK

Vaccine Hesitancy and Attributions for Autism among Racially and Ethnically Diverse Groups of Parents of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Pilot Study
Published: 2020

Higher proportions of parents of color were vaccine hesitant, and all vaccine‐hesitant parents agreed that “toxins in vaccines” were a cause of their child’s ASD.

Jennifer Chang PhD and Robin Kochel PhD, International Society for Autism Research24 July 2020;

Little is known about how racial/ethnic differences may influence attributions for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and subsequent vaccine hesitancy, the latter of which refers to a continuum of concerns about vaccine safety that may lead to vaccine delays and/or refusals. Two hundred and twenty‐five parents of children with ASD who were enrolled in the SPARK cohort (Simons Foundation Powering Autism Research for Knowledge) completed the Parent Attitudes about Childhood Vaccines survey and the Revised Illness Perception Questionnaire . 28.9% of respondents (n = 65) were vaccine hesitant (PACV score ≥ 50). Significant differences were observed between proportions of vaccine‐hesitant parents (VHP) in the White sample and combined samples of color (Asian, Black, Latinx, Multiracial, and Other): 22.8% of the White sample (n = 39) versus 48.1% of the samples of color (n = 26). White, non‐hesitant parents more often agreed with the child’s brain structure as a cause of their child’s ASD, while White, VHP more often agreed with the deterioration of the child’s immunity as a cause. All VHP (regardless of race) agreed more often with diet , their own decisions , and vaccines as causes. VHP of color more often agreed with accident or injury , environmental pollution , their own general stress , and their own emotional state as causes. Future work should examine this phenomenon in larger, diverse samples to further understand differences across specific racial/ethnic groups.

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