Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Chair

Marifran Mattson

Committee Member 1

Bart Collins

Committee Member 2

Gerald Hyner

Committee Member 3

Felicia Roberts


The “anti-vaccination,” or vaccine hesitancy, phenomenon has attracted the attention of many researchers in recent years. A significant amount of research has focused on identifying, categorizing, and measuring the beliefs common to vaccine-hesitant individuals. However, prior attempts to identify these beliefs have suffered from potential biases that call into question both the validity and comprehensiveness of our existing understanding of vaccine hesitancy. This dissertation project attempts to improve our understanding of vaccine hesitancy by systematically collecting beliefs held by vaccine-hesitant parents in the USA and using those beliefs to create a measure and model of vaccine hesitancy. Exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses were used to identify the model and construct the measure. Examination of the measure produces a strong argument in favor of its validity. The final measure posits four factors that make up vaccine hesitancy: beliefs about the safety of vaccines; beliefs about a parent’s obligation to vaccinate his or her child(ren); beliefs about the necessity of vaccines; and beliefs about the possible benefits of a delayed vaccination schedule. Implications for message design and avenues for future research are discussed.