Trust or Resistance? Government Health Communications and Covid-19 Vaccination.

Studenteropgave: Kandidatspeciale og HD afgangsprojekt

  • Thomas Christopher Jørgensen
4. semester, Psykologi, Kandidat (Kandidatuddannelse)
The aim of this thesis is to answer the research question: How are government health communications understood and used by people to make decisions about Covid-19 vaccination?
Social Representation Theory is used as theoretical framework to understand the re-spondents’ pre-existing structured set of socially situated ideas and how they influ-ence their understanding and use of a government health communication.
An online questionnaire was used with a combination of rating scales and open-ended questions, that aim to create a meaningful space for complex meaning-making and encapsulate the respondents’ understanding and use of a government health communication.
The chosen government health communication is by the Danish health authority Sundhedsstyrelsen and is a recommendation that pregnant women should be Covid-19 vaccinated.
The data collection resulted in 92 respondents, but 49 were removed as they only partially completed the questionnaire (n=43). The mean age of the sample is 31.2 (SD= 12.5). The gender distribution is 35% male (n= 15) and 65% women (n=28).
The analysis of both quantitative and qualitative measures resulted in two main find-ings, and a series of minor findings.
The first main finding is that the understanding and use of a government health communication in respondents’ decision making is highly influenced by two ele-ments: Trust and Resistance.
A finding which reaffirms the scientific literature. However, by use of SRT as a theo-retical framework, this thesis has been argued to contribute with an alternative under-standing of how government health communications are used and understood by people to make decisions on Covid-19 vaccinations.
The second main finding is that the government health communication has influ-enced a good portion of the sample and facilitated a perception of much lower Covid-19 vaccine risk for pregnant women.
A finding that has been said to both contribute and reaffirm the scientific literature.
The thesis also had 4 minor findings:
1. The respondents’ understanding of risk in some cases, have been influenced by their degree of familiarity with the object in question.
2. A historical analogy was used by one of the respondents, to understand and use the government health communication.
3. Non-scientific nationalistic cues have been argued to directly influence one’s understanding of the Covid-19 vaccine’s risk.
4. Those who trust a government health communication, can still have reserva-tions, and worry about possible political motives.

The data provided in this thesis can be used to better understand how social represen-tations can facilitate both trust and resistance to a government health communication. The data provided can also be used to potentially make future government health communications on Covid-19 vaccinations more effective and persuasive.
Udgivelsesdato1 jun. 2023
ID: 532477648