Communicating about vaccines and vaccine safety: What are medical residents learning and what do they want to learn?

Clea Sarnquist, Mark Sawyer, Kris Calvin, Wilbert Mason, Dean A Blumberg, Jeffrey Luther, Yvonne Maldonado

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Objective: Physicians spend significant amounts of time discussing vaccine safety concerns with patients and parents. This study aimed to better understand the educational needs of US residents regarding vaccine safety communication, primarily by quantifying the vaccine safety communication training that residents currently receive and elucidating residents' preferences around education about vaccines and vaccine safety communication. Design: A mixed-methods needs assessment consisting of focus groups and a survey. SETTING/Participants: A convenience sample of 303 medical residents in pediatrics, family medicine, and internal medicine from across the United States participated in an online, anonymous survey from March through June 2010. In addition, 9 focus groups with 47 resident participants were held. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES/Results: The sample included residents in pediatrics (239, 80.2%), internal or family medicine (30, 10.1%), and dual medicine-pediatrics (29, 9.7%); 20.6% of the residents reported "not learning" about vaccine safety communication in their residency programs. Preferred learning methods, which were also the most commonly used methods, included didactic lectures and role-modeling/cases. Electronic teaching method were not only less desired but also very rarely utilized. More than 95% of residents reported thinking that vaccine safety communication would be very or somewhat important in their careers. Conclusions: Improving education on vaccine safety communication within US residency programs, as well as offering self-learning opportunities, can better prepare physicians for their careers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)40-46
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Public Health Management and Practice
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2013


  • immunization
  • medical education

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health Policy
  • Medicine(all)


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