International Journal of Behavioral Medicine

, Volume 21, Issue 1, pp 3-10

First online:

‘Just that Little Bit of Doubt’: Scottish Parents', Teenage Girls' and Health Professionals' Views of the MMR, H1N1 and HPV Vaccines

  • Catriona KennedyAffiliated withSchool of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Care, Edinburgh Napier UniversityHealth Sciences Building, University of Limerick
  • , Carol Gray BruntonAffiliated withSchool of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Care, Edinburgh Napier University Email author 
  • , Rhona HoggAffiliated withSchool of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Care, Edinburgh Napier UniversityHealth Services Research Unit, NHS Lothian

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access



Parental decision making about childhood vaccinations is complex and the vaccination schedule ever-changing. Vaccination may be controversial even in countries with historically high vaccination rates such as Scotland. Health behaviour models have aided understanding of individual vaccine intentions for specific vaccines. These are limited in explaining actual behaviours and are divorced from the impact of socio-cultural contexts on vaccination decision making.


To explore vaccination views in Scotland amongst parents, teenage girls and health professionals across three controversial vaccines: the Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR), the Human Papilloma virus (HPV) and the Influenza A (H1N1) vaccine.


We used qualitative interviews and focus group discussions in a purposive sample of health professionals (n = 51), parents (n = 15) and teenage girls aged 12–15 years (n = 8) about their views of these vaccines. Discussions were analysed using thematic analysis.


Two main themes are highlighted: ‘vaccine risks revisited’ in which we explored how the MMR legacy resurfaced and how worries about vaccine safety permeated the data. ‘Vaccine responsibilities’ indicated tensions regarding roles and responsibilities for vaccines. An overarching notion of ‘just that little bit of doubt’ referred to lingering doubts and uncertainties interwoven across the vaccines.


Public health authorities should remain alert towards pervasive vaccine concerns. It is important for authorities to clarify vaccine roles and responsibilities in the face of new and existing vaccines and to acknowledge public concerns regarding vaccine safety.


Qualitative MMR vaccine H1N1 vaccine HPV vaccine Parents Young people Health professionals