Explaining COVID-19 Vaccination Intention in Younger Adults using Protection Motivation Theory

Judith Eberhardt, Jonathan Ling

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Abstract

Objectives: While COVID-19 vaccine uptake has been encouraging in the United
Kingdom, younger adults are more likely to be hesitant towards the vaccine. Protection Motivation Theory (PMT) has been applied to influenza vaccine acceptance, but there is a lack of research applying models of health behaviour, such as PMT, to COVID-19 vaccine acceptance in younger adults. Additionally, prior research has suggested that coronavirus conspiracy beliefs may play a role in this acceptance. The present study assessed the association between COVID-19 vaccination intention in younger adults and PMT, including coronavirus conspiracy beliefs as specific threat beliefs, during the later stages of the vaccination programme, with a correlational design using an online survey.
Methods: The survey was completed by 301 individuals (177 vaccinated, 124
unvaccinated) aged 18-34 (67 males, 234 females). Respondents’ mean age was
27.13 ( SD = 4.68). A multiple linear regression was performed on unvaccinated
individuals’ responses.
Results: The model showed that four constructs from PMT - severity, self-efficacy, maladaptive response rewards, and threat beliefs in the form of coronavirus conspiracy beliefs – were associated with intention to get vaccinated for COVID-19. An independent t-test established that unvaccinated individuals had lower levels of education than vaccinated ones.
Conclusions: Although further research is needed, interventions and campaigns
addressing COVID-19 vaccine acceptance may need to employ strategies increasing young adults’ perceived severity of COVID-19 and their perceived ability to get vaccinated, while decreasing perceived rewards of not getting vaccinated. Additionally, coronavirus conspiracy beliefs should be addressed in vaccine-hesitant individuals.
Original languageEnglish
JournalHealth Psychology
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 18 Aug 2022

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© 2022. American Psychological Association

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