Association between media attention and presentation of vaccination information on Canadian chiropractors’ websites: a prospective mixed-methods cohort study
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BACKGROUND: Historically, some chiropractors have been critical of vaccination, and this has been the subject of recent media attention in Canada. We explored the association between media attention and public dissemination of vaccination information on Canadian chiropractors' websites. METHODS: In 2016, we identified all Canadian chiropractors' websites that provided information on vaccination by extracting details from the regulatory college website for each province using the search engine on their "find a chiropractor" page. We assessed the quality of information using the Web Resource Rating Tool (scores range from 0% [worst] to 100% [best]), determined whether vaccination was portrayed in a positive, neutral or negative manner, and conducted thematic analysis of vaccination content. We revisited all identified websites in 2019 to explore for changes to posted vaccination material. RESULTS: In July 2016, of 3733 chiropractic websites identified, 94 unique websites provided information on vaccination: 59 (63%) gave negative messaging, 19 (20%) were neutral and 16 (17%) were positive. The quality of vaccination content on the websites was generally poor, with a median Web Resource Rating Tool score of 19%. We identified 4 main themes: there are alternatives to vaccination, vaccines are harmful, evidence regarding vaccination and health policy regarding vaccination. From 2012 to 2016, there was 1 Canadian newspaper story concerning antivaccination statements by chiropractors, whereas 51 news articles were published on this topic between 2017 and 2019. In April 2019, 45 (48%) of the 94 websites we had identified in 2016 had removed all vaccination content or had been discontinued. INTERPRETATION: In 2016, a minority of Canadian chiropractors provided vaccination information on their websites, the majority of which portrayed vaccination negatively. After substantial national media attention, about half of all vaccination material on chiropractors' websites was removed within several years.