Childhood trauma may influence COVID vaccine hesitancy

key takeaways

  • Vaccine hesitancy was 3 times higher among those who experienced 4 or more types of trauma in childhood.
  • Higher levels of childhood trauma were associated with lower trust in COVID-19 information and a lack of support for social distancing and mask wearing.
  • Understanding trauma information can help reduce mistrust of health information and vaccines.

A new study suggests that reluctance or refusal to get the COVID-19 vaccine, also known as vaccine hesitancy, may be associated with traumatic events in childhood, such as physical, verbal and sexual abuse, substance abuse or family neglect. Learn.

The researchers found that people who had four or more adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) were three times more likely to be hesitant about vaccines than those who had not experienced any trauma as a child.

“Adverse childhood experiences are strongly associated with poorer mental health and are associated with lower levels of trust, including in health services,” Karen Hughes, principal investigator and professor of public health at Bangor University, told in an email. VigorTip. “People who suffered abuse, neglect or other forms of adversity as children may find it more difficult to trust the national systems that protect and help them, especially if they have had bad previous experiences with such systems.”

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Researchers analysed responses to a national cross-sectional telephone survey of adults living in Wales between December 2020 and March 2021, when restrictions such as wearing masks and social distancing helped curb COVID-19 infection Spread.

More than 6,000 people were contacted, but only 2,285 responses were included. The final analysis used participants who answered all questions and met all eligibility criteria.

Participants were asked about nine different types of adverse childhood experiences before the age of 18, including: physical, verbal, and sexual abuse; parental separation; domestic violence; family with mental illness, alcohol, drug use, or incarceration members live together.

About half (52%) of the participants reported that they did not have any childhood traumatic experiences, but about 21% said they had one, 17% reported two or three, and 10% reported four species or more.

Those who experienced more trauma as children generally had lower trust in the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) COVID-19 information, felt unfairly restricted by the government, and were more supportive of social distancing and face covering requirements. The study published exist BMJ Open.

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Ernestine Cabady Briggs-King, Ph.D., associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Duke University who was not part of the study, told VigorTip that experiencing trauma at a young age violates an individual’s trust at an early age and can lead them to disrespect others, institutions and public health. Negative perception of the system.

“If you have more traumatic experiences, it’s going to teach you things about the world, or things that teach you about people in this world,” Briggs-King said. “Sexual abuse, for example, involves people you should trust, but they violate your trust. Because of this, you will have difficulty trusting others and often have a different view of what is safe and what is not.”

Childhood Trauma and Trust

Are there specific childhood traumas that have a greater impact on someone’s ability to trust health information related to COVID-19 and vaccines? According to Hughes, many traumas are interconnected and often occur together.

However, she said more research and research is needed to determine whether one childhood trauma is greater than another.

“A large body of research suggests that the more adverse childhood experiences people suffer, the greater the impact on health,” she said. “However, this may be something we study in more detail in the future.”

While there is no strong evidence that some forms of childhood trauma have a more pronounced effect on health than others, Susan Yoon, Ph.D., associate professor and researcher in the Department of Child Trauma and Child Abuse at The Ohio State University, told VigorTip in an email that trust or trust or Behavioural, previous research consistently found that more trauma or ACE faced by children was associated with worse health outcomes.

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However, Briggs-King believes that based on existing research, sexual abuse and domestic violence may be more prominent in someone’s ability to believe and rely on information, especially in health.

“Sexual abuse can be one of the most synergistic types of trauma or adversity,” Briggs-King said. “When combined with domestic violence, physical abuse or substance use, it can lead to depression, anxiety and behavioural issues moving forward. It can also be traced back to a breach of trust in people and information.”

How can we reduce vaccine hesitancy?

One way to reduce distrust of health information or vaccines, Hughes and Yoon say, is to have health care professionals and providers trauma informedProfessionals with a better understanding of how childhood adversity affects people can better help them when discussing vaccines and other medical or health issues.

“What seems like a routine can be a difficult leap of faith for health professionals, especially for those with little experience of trusting even in a home setting,” Hughes said. “Especially when it comes to vaccine information, For some people, simply repeating the same message multiple times in more or less the same way can feel a bit like yelling — the result can be to push people further away rather than convince them the benefits of.”

Briggs-King added that it’s also important to understand other factors, including cultural factors, histories of abuse within the health care system and other health disparities — while having more diversity and representation in the medical field.

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“We have to make sure the system is fair and inclusive,” Briggs-King said. “We also have to make sure people have access to information, because there are a lot of things on social media that may not have accurate information. It is critical that doctors representing various communities can talk to people about some of their concerns and answer their questions.”

Potential strategies to reduce vaccine hesitancy and lack of trust in government responses to COVID-19 among people with a history of childhood trauma could include creating a space where people affected by trauma can share their concerns, validate those concerns and Feel, build rapport and trust with them, and collaborate with other health/mental health professionals (social workers, therapists) with whom they may build trust to discuss COVID information.

It’s important to note that while the study showed that higher levels of ACE were associated with higher vaccine hesitancy, this was not the case for everyone who was vaccine hesitant. Hughes said many people have other reasons to be hesitant to get vaccinated.

what does this mean to you

It is important to approach those who are hesitant about a vaccine with understanding and empathy. Navigating these conversations can be tricky. VigorTip’s guide to healthy conversations can help.

more research

The study’s response rate was only about 36 percent, and the findings relied on personal recall. Women are also overrepresented and persons from ethnic minority backgrounds are underrepresented.

According to Hughes, they did not find any relationship between trust in NHS COVID-19 information and demographic factors. However, vaccine hesitancy and support for an end to current restrictions are linked to the socio-demographics of younger cohorts.

Briggs-King said that despite the lack of representativeness of the study, she believes the findings may be relevant and applicable to people around the world. But more research is needed to account for housing, poverty levels, unemployment and other health inequalities and disparities.

“This study gives us insight and clues about what we can do as medical professionals to address concerns about vaccine hesitancy, rather than saying, here are the rules,” Briggs-King said. “Understanding the root causes of some of these problems can Help us address them with information and allow people to make better-informed decisions.”

The information in this article is current as of the date listed, which means that you may have updated information as you read this article. For the latest updates on COVID-19, visit our Coronavirus news page.