Did you know that if you are a parent diligently researching the vaccine issue who has questions or concerns that you share with your doctor, you may be labeled as a “VHP”?
That’s right, pediatricians are now sometimes referring to a critical thinking parent as a faceless, nameless acronym when they converse with their colleagues, and you might even be listed on your child’s medical charts as a “VHP” too – Vaccine Hesitant Parent.
Doctor to nurse: “Yeah, she’s a VHP … make her wait in the waiting room for awhile so she’s in a hurry and won’t hassle me in the exam room, ha, ha.”
Think this type of comment is a stretch?
It’s not – I’ve sadly been privy to the private, insulting language some conventional doctors use to refer to their patients many times before as someone who grew up observing the behavior of the medical community at close range.
Not so tidy behind the scenes, is it?
You get a condescending label used behind your back just because you don’t buy into the conventional vaccine party line.
What’s more, pediatricians now have specific language to deal with you critical thinking rebels to shut down your whiny, misinformed, ignorant, low IQ questions before they even bubble up in your throat.
In a new study published online November 4, 2013 in Pediatrics, the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, physicians are now being advised to use “presumptive” instead of “participitory” language” when dealing with parents who express reservations about vaccines.
The cross-sectional observational study videotaped and then analyzed 111 vaccine discussions between parents and 16 doctors at nine different practices. 50% of these conversations involved parents who were hesitant about vaccination. The children involved were aged 1 to 19 months old.
What the researchers found is that when the pediatrician tells the parent that it’s time to vaccinate rather than ask how they are feeling or thinking about the decision, the parents will overwhelmingly just go ahead and allow the doctor to inject their child.
In other words, barreling ahead and telling the parent “it’s time for shots now” while ignoring any concerns or questions beforehand is the way to go in order to maximize vaccine compliance.
Three-quarters of the physicians in the study used presumptive language (“We have to do shots”) instead of participatory language (“What do you want to do about shots?”).
The rate of parents objecting to vaccination was approximately 17 times higher if the inclusive language was used rather than the authoritarian approach.
In addition, 47% of initially resistant parents eventually chose to vaccinate if the physician continued with the authoritarian approach with a follow-up comment such as “He really needs the shots.”
According to Dr. Douglas J. Opel MD, who conceptualized and designed the study:
“The participatory language suggests shared-decision making, and this isn’t necessarily a time to share a decision with parents. There isn’t a choice here. There’s no other medically accepted option.”
Mind games translation?
Shut up and do as your doctor says parents. You don’t have a choice and your parental rights were checked at the door when you walked into this office.
Have you noticed your doctor using this “presumptive language” technique, aka mind games, on you at checkups? If so, it’s high time to find another doctor who doesn’t resort to mind games to manipulate patient behavior.
Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist
The Healthy Home Economist has been a Nutrition Educator since 2002. She has served on the Board of Directors for the Nutrition nonprofit the Weston A. Price Foundation since 2011.
Sarah earned a Bachelor of Arts (summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa) in Economics from Furman University and a Master’s degree in Government (Financial Management) from the University of Pennsylvania.
Mother to three healthy children, blogger, and best-selling author, she writes about the practical application of Traditional Diet and evidence-based wellness within the modern household. Her work has been featured by USA Today, The New York Times, National Review, ABC, NBC, and many others.