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Trust in medical organizations predicts pandemic (H1N1) 2009 vaccination behavior and perceived efficacy of protection measures in the Swiss public

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Following the recent avian influenza and pandemic (H1N1) 2009 outbreaks, public trust in medical and political authorities is emerging as a new predictor of compliance with officially recommended protection measures. In a two-wave longitudinal survey of adults in French-speaking Switzerland, trust in medical organizations longitudinally predicted actual vaccination status 6 months later, during the pandemic (H1N1) 2009 vaccination campaign. No other variables explained significant amounts of variance. Trust in medical organizations also predicted perceived efficacy of officially recommended protection measures (getting vaccinated, washing hands, wearing a mask, sneezing into the elbow), as did beliefs about health issues (perceived vulnerability to disease, threat perceptions). These findings show that in the case of emerging infectious diseases, actual behavior and perceived efficacy of protection measures may have different antecedents. Moreover, they suggest that public trust is a crucial determinant of vaccination behavior and underscore the practical importance of managing trust in disease prevention campaigns.

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  1. We intentionally sampled participants to obtain equal representation of residential areas.

  2. Repeated sample t-tests performed on the means indicated that vaccination was seen as the least efficient recommendation (lower difference: t [588] = -5.28, P < .001). Washing hands was seen as the most efficient one (lower difference: t [588] = 19.21, P < .001).


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Correspondence should be addressed to Adrian Bangerter, Institute of Work and Organizational Psychology, University of Neuchâtel, Emile-Argand 11, 2009 Neuchâtel—Switzerland (e-mail: This study was supported by a grant from the Swiss National Science Foundation to Adrian Bangerter, Eva Green, and Alain Clémence.

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Correspondence to Ingrid Gilles.

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Gilles, I., Bangerter, A., Clémence, A. et al. Trust in medical organizations predicts pandemic (H1N1) 2009 vaccination behavior and perceived efficacy of protection measures in the Swiss public. Eur J Epidemiol 26, 203–210 (2011).

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