Those who frequently use home remedies are less likely to get vaccinated against influenza or support the vaccine according to a new Preventative Medicine study from University of Maryland School of Public Health researchers Dr. Jessica Gleason, Ms. Amelia Jamison and Dr. Sandra Quinn along with Dr. Vicki Freimuth of the Center for Health and Risk Communication.
Although studies show African Americans are more likely to use home remedies and the influenza vaccination rate among this group trails Whites by almost 8 percent, little research has explored the effect of cultural practices like home remedy use on racial disparities in influenza vaccine uptake.
First to explore this association, the researchers contracted the GfK Group to conduct a survey of 819 African American and 838 White respondents in the US. The survey questioned respondents about behaviors, attitudes and risk perceptions related to the influenza vaccine and the frequency of their home remedy use.
The researchers found that more African Americans used home remedies as part of family tradition, because of a lack of access to care and instead of getting an influenza vaccine. Still, the researchers found that frequent home remedy users held more negative views about the influenza vaccine regardless of race. They suggest that among home remedy users, little trust in the vaccine and an overestimation of risk may contribute to vaccine refusal.
Given these findings and rising home remedy use across socioeconomic and demographic groups, the researchers urge health care providers to consider cultural practices when counseling patients for vaccination. They suggest that advice toward individuals with a preference for home remedies “allay fears and correct misconceptions.”