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Anti-Vaccination and CAM Reflect a Common Worldview

By Matt Browne

A study has explored the psychosocial factors driving anti-vaccination attitudes.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

Critics of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) wonder why its champions are so dismissive of evidence-based research, but evidence-based research itself suggests that part of the answer lies in personality rather than logic, and requires a need for rethinking how health professionals must address the issue.

In July 2013 I described in this column two psychological traits associated with the use of CAM (http://tinyurl.com/jle2ucp). One was “openness to experience”, which captures (among other things) an individual’s interest in diverse and unconventional ideas. The other was an intuitive cognitive style: a tendency to evaluate information and make decisions based on “gut feelings” and heuristic associations.

These findings shed some light on why logical and evidential arguments in favour of conventional medicine tend to fall on deaf ears. CAM seems to appeal to a personality type that’s suspicious of authority and orthodoxy, and instead values intuitive and highly personal ways of evaluating information.

My colleagues and I have recently considered the relationship of CAM and psychosocial factors to anti-vaccination (AV) attitudes. AV and pro-CAM attitudes have similar features. Both tend to be contrary to scientific and conventional medical advice. Discourse on anti-...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.