An evaluation of community engagement strategies to improve trust and vaccine confidence. : A review of the Primary Healthcare for Travellers Projects in Ireland.

University essay from Malmö universitet/Institutionen för konst, kultur och kommunikation (K3)

Author: Michael Buggle; [2021]

Keywords: ;

Abstract: Public trust in vaccines has shifted over time and at different rates based on vaccine and contextual factors. Despite the known benefit for public health, recent studies across many countries have indicated a perceived ‘hesitancy’ toward vaccines, namely those for the prevention of COVID-19. The decision to vaccinate can be complex, involving psychological and socio-cultural factors that can cause vaccination barriers. Trust or confidence, both in a vaccine and the people behind the vaccine, has been identified as a core element impacting people’s willingness to vaccinate, particularly if a vaccine is new.  Community engagement (CE) methodologies have been recommended in previous reports as strategies to improve trust among populations in health services such as vaccinations. The following study evaluates the applicability of CE strategies, such as the community health worker model, in addressing factors of vaccine hesitancy (VH) by leveraging trusted relationships. The study looks at the approach of a model used to address health inequalities among the Traveller Population in Ireland as a case study of community engagement methodologies within an ethnic minority population.  Using the Primary Healthcare for Travellers Projects (PHCTP) as a case, this study evaluates how trust as a by-product of community engagement can play a role in improving vaccine confidence. The study examines elements of CE strategies that can be applied to the Irish Traveller context to address any potential COVID-19 vaccine confidence issues. Interviews with several stakeholders uncover perspectives on the PHTCP model and CE strategies generally and their impact on vaccine decision-making. These stakeholders include primary health workers of the PHCTP teams in Dublin, and ‘expert’ stakeholders consisting of public health specialists with experience in the field of VH. The study shows that the PHCTPs have built up significant trust levels with the Traveller community and may be effective in improving vaccine confidence in a COVID-19 vaccine in the future.

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