Confessions of a Quackbuster

This blog deals with healthcare consumer protection, and is therefore about quackery, healthfraud, chiropractic, and other forms of so-Called "Alternative" Medicine (sCAM).

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Antivax vibes grow as naturopathy students go

Antivax vibes grow as naturopathy students go

By Mardi Chapman

NATUROPATHY students become more negative about paediatric vaccination as they progress through training, despite assurances their curriculum does not encourage such attitudes.

According to a study of more than 300 students at a Canadian college, about 20% of first- and second-year students would recommend full vaccination compared with fewer than 2% of third- and fourth-year students.

“Both willingness to advise full vaccination and trust in public health and conventional medicine decreased in students in the later years of the program,”researchers wrote in Vaccine (2 January).

“A possible explanation for our observations is that students’ anti-vaccination attitudes are intensified and validated by the presence of other students with similar beliefs.”

Students were influenced by anecdotal reports of harm from vaccination, the study found. Given that complementary and alternative medicine providers had the potential to influence parents about paediatric vaccination, the authors recommended public health officials engage them early in their careers.

Effective dialogue may need to acknowledge that no treatment was 100% safe or effective, they said.

Mr Paul Orrock, head of the School of Natural and Complementary Medicine at the Southern Cross University, said a problem was that naturopaths had been outside the mainstream and were therefore not consulted on public health issues.

“We are trying to bring the profession from a self-regulating environment into a more rigorous, scientific and evidence-based era,” he said.

Parents were undeniably nervous about vaccination and dogmatic advice from pro-vaccination and anti-vaccination lobbies was not helpful, Mr Orrock told Australian Doctor.

Associate Professor Peter McIntyre, acting director of the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance of Vaccine Preventable Diseases, agreed with the researchers that the disappearance of vaccine-preventable diseases contributed to anti-vaccination attitudes.

“Case histories about kids who died or had a bad outcome from vaccine-preventable diseases could be very helpful in communication,” he said.

Vaccine 2004; 22:329-34.