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July 1997

Are Immunizations an Incentive for Well-Child Visits?

Author Affiliations

From the Departments of Maternal and Child Health (Ms Hughart, Drs Strobino and Guyer, and Mr Hou), Biostatistics (Dr Ross), and International Health (Dr Holt), The Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health, Baltimore, Md; and the Department of Pediatrics, Brown University School of Medicine, Providence, RI (Dr Vivier).

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1997;151(7):690-695. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1997.02170440052009

Objective:  To assess the beliefs of parents and the visit patterns of their children to determine whether immunizations act as an incentive to use well-child care.

Design and Methods:  Medical record audits provided data on immunizations and well-child visits. Two questions from a parent interview were used to identify 4 groups of parents: (1) motivated and (2) unmotivated to keep a well-child care appointment regardless of whether immunizations are scheduled, (3) vaccine-motivated and (4) checkup-motivated (parents who were influenced negatively by the prospect of receiving vaccinations). The percentage of children with a visit at each age window for well-child visits and the percentage up-to-date for their immunizations at given ages were compared across the 4 groups. The 4 groups were also compared for other parental attitudes about immunizations and well-child visits, and on sociodemographic and access characteristics.

Results:  Most (73.3%) of the 502 parents surveyed were classified as motivated and 5% as unmotivated to keep a well-child care appointment regardless of whether an immunization was scheduled. Only 18.3% were categorized as vaccine-motivated and 3.4% as checkup-motivated. For all 4 groups, there was no discernible difference in attendance between immunization and non-immunization visits. Attendance in the windows for well-child visits and percentage of children up-to-date on immunizations declined with increasing age.

Conclusions:  In this inner-city population, attendance patterns at visits did not support the incentive hypothesis. This finding should reassure clinicians that providing immunizations outside of regular well-child care visits will not necessarily decrease attendance at visits for well-child care.Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1997;151:690-695