Understanding African American College Students' H1N1 Vaccination Decisions

Document Type


Publication Date

July 2015


In this study, we examined the effects of cognitive appraisals and individual differences in discomfort with uncertainty, as measured by a short form of Webster and Kruglanski's (1994) Need for Closure (NFC) scale, on African American college students' self-reported H1N1 vaccination decisions during the 2009-2010 H1N1 pandemic. Howard University undergraduates, who self-identified as Black or African American and met U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) H1N1 high-priority group criteria, completed computer-administered surveys that included (a) questions about H1N1 vaccination status; self-efficacy; perceived costs, benefits, and efficaciousness of the H1N1 vaccine; and potential barriers to vaccination, including flu-shot frequency; (b) demographic measures; and (c) a short form of Kruglanski's NFC scale (Orehek et al., 2010). A sequential multinomial logistic regression revealed (a) a significant effect of NFC on vaccination status such that higher NFC was associated with lower odds of being vaccinated or intending to be vaccinated, after controlling for demographic variables, comfort with flu vaccinations more generally, and several other potential vaccination barriers, χ2(2, 217) = 10.08, p = .006; and (b) vaccination status was best accounted for by a model that included perceptions of the vaccine's costs, benefits, and efficaciousness, and participants' self-efficacy for being vaccinated, χ2(6, 217) = 57.24, p < .001. Our data suggest the importance of cognitive appraisals and traits (i.e., comfort with uncertainty) in the process individuals use to make potentially life-saving vaccination decisions.

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