Researchers of a new study found that parents who believe in conspiracy theories may indirectly affect their children's health and healthcare by avoiding vaccinations.
A new study presented August 28, 2013 at the Annual Conference of the British Psychological Society's Social Psychology Section in Exeter stated that parent's belief in conspiracy theories may influence their decision to get their children vaccinated against diseases like measles.
The first part of the study was conducted on 89 parents. Authors of the study, Daniel Jolley and Karen Douglas, asked these parents about their views on anti-vaccine conspiracy theories and then about their intentions of getting their child vaccinated. Researchers found that parents who had stronger beliefs about anti-vaccine conspiracy theories had lesser intentions of getting their child vaccinated.
The second part of the study was conducted on 188 parents. These parents were exposed to information about anti-vaccine conspiracy theories. Researchers found that the parents who were just given the information to read had lesser intentions of getting their child vaccinated compared to the parents who were given information that proved these anti-vaccine conspiracy theories were false.
"The recent outbreak of measles in the UK illustrates the importance of vaccination. Our studies demonstrate that anti-vaccine conspiracy theories may present a barrier to vaccine uptake," Jolley said in a press statement.
"Our findings point to the potentially detrimental consequences of anti-vaccine conspiracy theories," Douglas added. "It is easy to treat belief in conspiracy theories lightly, but our studies show that wariness about conspiracy theories may be warranted."
Only recently there was a measles outbreak in Texas that was traced back to a congregation of a mega-church that was warned to stay away from vaccines. The victims included nine children and six adults.