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MEASLES MUMPS AND RUBELLA VACCINATION AND AUTISM: MISPERCEPTION/MISCOMMUNICATION VS. SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE. RESULTS OF A BLINDED ANONYMOUS ITALIAN SURVEY

Claudio De Felice, Silvia Leoncini, Cinzia Signorini, Alessio Cortelazzo, Enrica Marchigiani, Lucia Ciccoli, Joussef Hayek
  • Claudio De Felice
    Neonatal Intensive Care Unit University Hospital, Azienda Ospedaliera Universitaria Senese (AOUS), Siena, Italy | c.defelice@ao-siena.toscana.it
  • Silvia Leoncini
    Child Neuropsychiatry Unit, University Hospital, Azienda Ospedaliera Universitaria Senese (AOUS), Siena; Department of Molecular and Developmental Medicine, University of Siena, Italy
  • Cinzia Signorini
    Department of Molecular and Developmental Medicine, University of Siena, Italy
  • Alessio Cortelazzo
    Child Neuropsychiatry Unit, University Hospital, Azienda Ospedaliera Universitaria Senese (AOUS), Siena; Department of Medical Biotechnologies, University of Siena, Italy
  • Enrica Marchigiani
    Department of Social, Political and Cognitive Sciences, University of Siena, Italy
  • Lucia Ciccoli
    Department of Molecular and Developmental Medicine, University of Siena, Italy
  • Joussef Hayek
    Child Neuropsychiatry Unit, University Hospital, Azienda Ospedaliera Universitaria Senese (AOUS), Siena, Italy

Abstract

Herd immunity towards measles, one of the 20 most lethal diseases in human history, has been recently challenged on a global scale. Despite a missing causal relationship, vaccine fear has triggered a global anti vaccine movement. We investigated i) the extent of the vaccination-autism false belief in a selected Italian population from two geographical areas with and without an ongoing epidemics for a potentially vaccination-preventable infectious disease (Neisseria meningitidis, groups C and B); ii) the corresponding information source; and iii) the belief in a possible global conspiracy. Four different population sub-categories (I-general population; II-parents of autistic children; III-paramedics; IV-physicians, biologists and pharmacists; n=424) were administered anonymous questionnaires. A total of 30.1% of the general population and the 54.5% of autism parents participants believed in a vaccine-autism relationship (P<0.0001). The web was the major information source for the general population (35.3%). A total of 41.6% of the general population believes in a cover up of potential conflicts of interests by the Institutions. The belief in the autism-vaccination link was also positively related to the parenthood of an autistic child (OR:5.78, 95%CI: 2.36 to 14.12). We conclude that, against scientific evidence, information source and emotional involvement are major influencers of the misperception in the vaccine-autism paradigm, potentially fuelling the resurgence of vaccinepreventable diseases with major public health consequences.

Keywords

autism spectrum disorders; global anti vaccine movement; information processing; public opinion survey; vaccination

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Submitted: 2017-07-26 13:29:04
Published: 2017-07-27 11:37:59
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Copyright (c) 2016 Claudio De Felice, Silvia Leoncini, Cinzia Signorini, Alessio Cortelazzo, Enrica Marchigiani, Lucia Ciccoli, Joussef Hayek

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