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Open Access Research article

THE VAXED PROJECT: An Assessment of Immunization Education in Canadian Health Professional Programs

Lorine P Pelly1, Donna M Pierrynowski MacDougall2, Beth A Halperin1, Robert A Strang3, Susan K Bowles4, Darlene M Baxendale1 and Shelly A McNeil5*

Author Affiliations

1 Canadian Center for Vaccinology, IWK Health Centre, Dalhousie University, Dr. Richard B. Goldbloom RCC Pavilion, 4th Floor, 5850/5980 University Avenue, PO BOX 9700, Halifax, NS, B3K 6R8, Canada

2 St. Francis Xavier University, Canadian Center for Vaccinology, IWK Health Centre, Dalhousie University, Dr. Richard B. Goldbloom RCC Pavilion, 4th Floor, 5850/5980 University Avenue, PO BOX 9700, Halifax, NS, B3K 6R8, Canada

3 Nova Scotia Department of Health Promotion and Protection; Maritime Center, 1505 Barrington St., PO BOXC 2734, B3J 3P7, Canada

4 Department of Medicine, QEII Health Sciences Centre, School of Pharmacy, Dalhousie University; Halifax, Nova Scotia, B3 H 3J5, Canada

5 Department of Medicine, QEII Health Sciences Centre, Canadian Center for Vaccinology, IWK Health Centre, Dalhousie University, Dr. Richard B. Goldbloom RCC Pavilion, 4th Floor, 5850/5980 University Avenue, PO BOX 9700, Halifax, NS, B3K 6R8, Canada

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BMC Medical Education 2010, 10:86  doi:10.1186/1472-6920-10-86

Published: 26 November 2010

Abstract

Background

Knowledge & attitudes of healthcare providers (HCP) have significant impact on frequency with which vaccines are offered & accepted but many HCP are ill equipped to make informed recommendations about vaccine merits & risks. We performed an assessment of the educational needs of trainees regarding immunization and used the information thus ascertained to develop multi-faceted, evaluable, educational tools which can be integrated into formal education curricula.

Methods

(i) A questionnaire was sent to all Canadian nursing, medical & pharmacy schools to assess immunization-related curriculum content (ii) A 77-item web-based, validated questionnaire was emailed to final-year students in medicine, nursing, & pharmacy at two universities in Nova Scotia, Canada to assess knowledge, attitudes, & behaviors reflecting current immunization curriculum.

Results

The curriculum review yielded responses from 18%, 48%, & 56% of medical, nursing, & pharmacy schools, respectively. Time spent on immunization content varied substantially between & within disciplines from <1 to >50 hrs. Most schools reported some content regarding vaccine preventable diseases, immunization practice & clinical skills but there was considerable variability and fewer schools had learning objectives or formal evaluation in these areas. 74% of respondents didn't feel comfortable discussing vaccine side effects with parents/patients & only 21% felt they received adequate teaching regarding immunization during training.

Conclusions

Important gaps were identified in the knowledge of graduating nursing, medical, & pharmacy trainees regarding vaccine indications/contraindications, adverse events & safety. The national curriculum review revealed wide variability in immunization curriculum content & evaluation. There is clearly a need for educators to assess current curricula and adapt existing educational resources such as the Immunization Competencies for Health Professionals in Canada.