Journal of Bioethical Inquiry

, Volume 14, Issue 3, pp 411–426 | Cite as

Exploring Vaccine Hesitancy Through an Artist–Scientist Collaboration

Visualizing Vaccine-Critical Parents’ Health Beliefs
  • Kaisu Koski
  • Johan Holst
Original Research


This project explores vaccine hesitancy through an artist–scientist collaboration. It aims to create better understanding of vaccine hesitant parents’ health beliefs and how these influence their vaccine-critical decisions. The project interviews vaccine-hesitant parents in the Netherlands and Finland and develops experimental visual-narrative means to analyse the interview data. Vaccine-hesitant parents’ health beliefs are, in this study, expressed through stories, and they are paralleled with so-called illness narratives. The study explores the following four main health beliefs originating from the parents’ interviews: (1) perceived benefits of illness, (2) belief in the body’s intelligence and self-healing capacity, (3) beliefs about the “inside–outside” flow of substances in the body, and (4) view of death as a natural part of life. These beliefs are interpreted through arts-based diagrammatic representations. These diagrams, merging multiple aspects of the parents’ narratives, are subsequently used in a collaborative meaning-making dialogue between the artist and the scientist. The resulting dialogue contrasts the health beliefs behind vaccine hesitancy with scientific knowledge, as well as the authors’ personal, and differing, attitudes toward these.


Vaccine hesitancy Interview Health belief Illness narrative Arts-based data visualization Artist-scientist collaboration 



Warm thanks to all those parents who volunteered to be interviewed for this study.

The authors gratefully acknowledge the valuable feedback Professor Kati Hakkarainen has given on Kaisu’s interview process from microbiological, clinical, and educational perspectives in Finland and internationally. Drs. Hanne Nøkleby and Lisbeth Meyer Næss are both thanked warmly for their continued interest during the project, giving input and for participations in discussions at various stages in development of the present text. Dr. Nøkleby gave particular valuable comments from her long-standing experience as a medical doctor and paediatrician with contact with clinical vaccine practice in Norway and internationally. Dr. Næss gave a number of valuable contributions about vaccine compositions and immunological concepts.

Compliance with ethical standards


This study is part of Kaisu Koski’s Academy Research Fellow project Video Scenarios in Medical Education: Polyphony and Non-linearity in Audiovisual Doctor–Patient Narratives, which is funded by the Academy of Finland 2015–2020 (decision no 285118).

This work was completed as part of the International Collaboration for Capitalizing on Cost-Effective and Life-Saving Commodities (i4C) that is funded through the Research Council of Norway’s Global Health & Vaccination Program (GLOBVAC Project #234608).

Ethics Approval

This study has been approved by the Ethics Committee of Human Sciences in the University of Tampere.


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Copyright information

© Journal of Bioethical Inquiry Pty Ltd. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Practice as Research in Theatre, Faculty of Communication SciencesUniversity of TampereTampereFinland
  2. 2.Department of Vaccine Preventable Diseases, Domain for Infection Control and Environmental HealthNorwegian Institute of Public HealthNydalenNorway

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