Although the Canadian Chiropractic Association and the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College (CMCC) endorse vaccination, the prevalence of anti-vaccination attitudes among Canadian chiropractors is unknown. This study describes the prevalence of anti-vaccination attitudes among Canadian chiropractic students.
An 11-item questionnaire about attitudes toward vaccination was distributed to students enrolled at CMCC during the 1999/2000 academic year. The responses for the 11 items were then summed to arrive at a total score ranging from 0 (most negative attitude toward vaccination) to 22 (most positive attitude toward vaccination). Respondents' perceptions of sources of vaccine information were also investigated.
Over 75% of the students (467 of 621) completed the questionnaire. Most students (53.3%) reported that in general they agreed with vaccination. This was especially true among first-year students (60.7%). However, among fourth year students, only 39.5% agreed with vaccination. The proportion of respondents who stated that they were against vaccination in general was 5 (4.5%) of 112 first-year students, 10 (8.3%) of 121 second-year students, 16 (13.9%) of 115 third-year students and 35 (29.4%) of 119 fourth-year students. The mean scores on the questionnaire were progressively lower with each higher year of study at the College. The mean survey scores for each year of study were first year, 15.9 (95% confidence interval [CI] 15.2–16.6); second year, 16.1 (95% CI 15.3–17.0); third year, 14.5 (95% CI 13.5–15.4); and fourth year, 12.8 (95% CI 11.7–13.9). The mean scores varied among year of study and were statistically significant using one-way ANOVA (p < 0.0001). Among students who relied primarily on informal sources of vaccine information, such as the chiropractic literature and informal talks at CMCC, anti-vaccination attitudes were more prevalent in later years.
Most CMCC students reported pro-vaccination attitudes, but there appeared to be an increase in anti-vaccination attitudes as students progressed through the CMCC program. This pattern was seen almost exclusively among students who relied primarily on informal sources of vaccine information rather than on core CMCC lectures or prior lectures at university.