Information, Perceptions and Health Behavior (2021-2022)


Health decisions and behavior are often intertwined with perceptions influenced by information access, culture and social norms, and policies that may elicit acceptance or resistance. For example, vaccines have been a savior invention for individual health and the greater society, but doubts about vaccines’ necessity, efficacy and safety have endured since the 1800s. Vaccine hesitancy has led to suboptimal immunizations globally. In the U.S., only 70% of children complete the recommended childhood vaccine series and 34% of adults regularly receive vaccinations for seasonal influenza.

Misinformation and antivaccine sentiments in recent years have caused resurgences of diseases that were eliminated or nearly eradicated. While COVID-19 persists, the public’s intent to vaccinate is unclear and changing. Of note, racial and ethnic minorities with higher infection susceptibility and mortality often have lower confidence and acceptance for vaccines, perpetuating chronic disparity. 

Polls, studies and social discourses on vaccine receptivity have generated vast interest and data, but outcomes vary. Without purposefully synthesized information, policymakers and health authorities are left with incomplete knowledge of the contextual factors and societal pulse for effective policy formulation and implementation, rendering herd immunity challenging.

Project Description

The objectives of this project team are to:

  1. discover how vaccine acceptance for COVID-19 and other diseases change over time
  2. compare individual, societal and vaccine-specific barriers and motivators
  3. analyze language framing and data presentation influences

By tracking changes in attitudes and subsequent behaviors via both primary and secondary data, the composite knowledge aims to offer policymakers comprehensive, up-to-date information and recommendations for planning, executing and monitoring immunization programs and communication campaigns for the current pandemic and future health threats.

The team will start with a literature review of academic journals and official documents to build a foundation of knowledge. The team will complement this work with environmental scans and social listening for trending public opinions and sentiments. Team members will apply quantitative, qualitative and AI methods to examine the determinants of vaccine hesitancy and identify triggers that could sway attitudes or receptivity. They will investigate both how information consumers access and utilize data to form perceptions and how information producers acquire, interpret, and present data that may influence our beliefs and behaviors.

The data and insights obtained will be integrated, illustrated and shared on a website with dashboards and infographics, supplemented with synthesized reports and a collection of guidelines and communication strategies. Based on the study results, the team will discuss policy implications regarding vaccine access and prioritization equity, health insurance payment system, pharmaceutical innovation and pricing, or government welfare models. 

Anticipated Outputs

Vaccine hesitancy-receptivity reports; policy and communications recommendations; interactive website; conference presentations; peer-reviewed publications; data for future research and funding proposals


Summer 2021 – Summer 2022

  • Summer 2021 (optional): Background research and systematic review; connect with field experts and potential partners; IRB training and preparation; software workshops
  • Fall 2021: Literature review; design online survey and focus group discussion guide; complete IRB approval; recruit and screen participants; data collection; learn web design and social listening
  • Spring 2022: Compile and analyze data; conduct second survey; launch website and continue updating; draft and revise manuscript and reports; conference presentation; submit for publication
  • Summer 2022 (optional): Field work internships in the community or with NGOs


Don Nguyen

This Team in the News

Meet the Members of the 2021-2022 Bass Connections Student Advisory Council


Image: MTA’s Heroic Frontline Workers Begin COVID-19 Vaccinations, by Metropolitan Transportation Authority of the State of New York, licensed under CC BY 2.0

MTA’s Heroic Frontline Workers Begin COVID-19 Vaccinations.

Team Leaders

  • Cheryl Lin, John Hope Franklin Center, Duke Policy and Organizational Management Program, Markets and Management Studies, International Studies
  • James Michener, School of Medicine-Family Medicine and Community Health
  • Pikuei Tu, John Hope Franklin Center, Duke Policy and Organizational Management Program, Markets and Management Studies, International Studies

/graduate Team Members

  • Don Nguyen, Global Health - MSc

/undergraduate Team Members

  • Brooke Bier, Psychology (AB)
  • Michaela Kotarba, Interdepartmental
  • Alejandra Mella
  • Taylor Parker
  • Kartik Pejavara
  • Danielle Smith, Neuroscience (BS)

/yfaculty/staff Team Members

  • Susan Kline, School of Medicine-Pediatrics
  • John Paat, School of Medicine-Medicine: General Internal Medicine
  • Ann Reed, School of Medicine-Pediatrics

/zcommunity Team Members

  • Laura Bayzle, The Link Group
  • Leslie Beitsch, Department of Behavioral Sciences and Social Medicine - FSU
  • Mike McTaggart, Global Digital
  • Jewel Mullen, Dell Medical School-UT-Austin