The influence of altruism on influenza vaccination decisions.

TitleThe influence of altruism on influenza vaccination decisions.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2012
AuthorsShim E, Chapman GB, Townsend JP, Galvani AP
JournalJ R Soc Interface
Date Published2012 Sep 7
KeywordsAdolescent, Adult, Aged, Altruism, Decision Making, Female, Humans, Influenza, Human, Male, Middle Aged, Models, Theoretical, Vaccination

Game theory is based on the assumption that individuals act according to self-interest and make decisions that maximize their personal payoffs. To test this fundamental assumption, we conducted a survey study in the context of influenza vaccination decisions. Contrary to the assumption of self-interest, we found that altruism plays an important role in vaccination decisions. Nevertheless, altruistic motivation has not yet been considered in epidemiological models, in predictions of vaccination decisions or in the design of vaccination policies. To determine the impact of altruism on the adherence to optimal vaccination policies and on resulting disease burden, we incorporated altruism into a game-theoretic epidemiological model of influenza vaccination. We found that altruism significantly shifted vaccination decisions away from individual self-interest and towards the community optimum, greatly reducing the total cost, morbidity and mortality for the community. Therefore, promoting altruism could be a potential strategy to improve public health outcomes.

Alternate JournalJ R Soc Interface
PubMed ID22496100
PubMed Central IDPMC3405754
Grant List5R01AI072706 / AI / NIAID NIH HHS / United States
5U54GM088491-02 / GM / NIGMS NIH HHS / United States
U54 GM088491 / GM / NIGMS NIH HHS / United States
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