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Healthcare Consumer Preferences: Key to the Vaccination Message


HHealth care, like politics, is local. The implementation of certain procedures or the prevalence of certain conditions varies from municipality to municipality. Likewise, the preferences of the individual, how they decide on care. People’s trust in their providers is not that different.

Because of this, throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, aside from mandates, frontline clinicians have generally had the greatest impact on the adoption of Covid-19 vaccines. Understanding the impact of doctors is especially important as the country continues to advance vaccine uptake among adults, expand eligibility to those under the age of 12, and begin the Covid-19 vaccine booster phase.

But the influence of clinicians on their patients alone is not enough to convince potentially “agile” vaccine-reluctant people to switch to the vaccinated column. The message is just as important as the messenger. While being able to see the reasons for delaying or avoiding the Covid-19 vaccination – fear of side effects, insufficient evidence, and the like – is important, an insight into the psychographic profile, which depicts the motivations and values ​​behind the behavior of the Underlying consumers of everything from entertainment and food to health care is key to effectively influencing vaccination decisions.


The five psychographic profiles of healthcare consumers are:

  • Self-earner, are the most active for their health and invest in regular medical examinations and checkups.
  • Balance seekers, who define their own health and not through medical professionals. You are open to a variety of ideas, sources of information and treatment options.
  • Jugglers with priority, who are preoccupied with responsibilities, i.e. reactive when it comes to their own health, but proactive when it comes to the health of their family.
  • Direction taker, who look for credible resources and receive instruction and guidance from health professionals.
  • Willful perseverance, independent thinkers who do not prioritize their health.

In particular, there is not a single psychographic profile that predicts a person’s vaccination status.


Using Trilliant Health’s national all-payer claims and consumer database, which divides individuals into these five psychographic profiles, we found that the distribution of profiles among unvaccinated individuals varied widely.

For this reason, developing messages that take into account the individual attitudes, values, and personalities that drive healthcare decisions is essential for effective communication as they determine the tone, content, channel, and frequency of the messages. The influx of information about Covid-19 through the media, service providers, governments, social networks and the like is received and perceived differently by people with different psychographic profiles and thus influences different health decisions.


“There was no plan”: Throwing spaghetti on the wall to overcome the hesitation of the Covid-19 vaccine

To assess the effectiveness of specific vaccination persuasion arguments for different psychographic profiles, we tested 12 different video messages recorded by a group of clinicians on three online discussion forums among unvaccinated adults, and rated the vaccination messages that each profile was based on best responded.

Although vaccines have become a nationalized issue, individuals perceive their health care to be unique to the needs of their region, community, and even their families. Our results suggest that unvaccinated Americans differentiate between a clinician in their communities and a federal government or media clinician. Clinicians with personal connections and understanding of the local community are ideal vaccine speakers for the Self Achiever and Direction Taker.

The priority juggler and balance seeker responded well to a question as opposed to an order. Clinicians who asked unvaccinated individuals with these profiles to speak to their personal provider were more effective than telling them to “do the injection.”

Clinicians are most effective when they exude patience, especially in public settings such as social media and press conferences. While Covid-19 has been politicized at all levels, most clinicians continue to act above the political struggle: they are viewed as apolitical by their patients, and their patience and provision of information reinforce their impartiality. This is particularly important for the Willful Endurer as well as for the Balance Seeker and Priority Jonggler.

In all profiles, we found that patients were more likely to trust and follow medical recommendations that they perceive to be specific to their local community, personal to them, and impartial from politics.

Messaging strategy overview Susceptible psychographic profile (s)
Call “trusted” clinicians Clinicians with a “national” profile (Anthony Fauci, Rochelle Walensky, Sanjay Gupta, and the like) have minimal traction in unvaccinated Americans. Those who are not vaccinated are more likely to respond to doctors they know and trust. Even if they don’t know the clinician personally, they can still have a higher level of trust in clinicians who work for familiar organizations such as the local hospital.
  • Self-earner
  • Direction taker
Share new information Learning new information can often be a driver of persuasion. Video messages with the best results received a higher proportion of participants who learned something new from the video message.
  • Balance seeker
  • Priority juggler
  • Willful persevering
Ask, don’t tell Despite positive reliance on clinicians, unvaccinated Americans don’t like directives. Clinicians asking unvaccinated Americans to speak to a health care provider may be more effective than commenting on the effects of “take the syringe.”
  • Priority juggler
  • Balance seeker
Radiate patience Doctors are rightly trusted because of their expertise, but for many unvaccinated people there is a fine line between being an expert and being a patron.
  • Willful persevering
  • Balance seeker
  • Priority juggler
Acknowledge risk With many unvaccinated Americans having higher levels of suspicion about Covid issues, including vaccines, it is important to acknowledge side effects in order to build trust. Unvaccinated Americans have seen, read, and heard side effects and believe they are being downplayed. Not acknowledging risks (no matter how rare these risks are) arouses suspicion in this cohort. Clinicians are in the best possible position to acknowledge the risk of side effects while reminding unvaccinated Americans of the greater risk of Covid-19 itself.
  • Self-earner
  • Balance seeker

Of course, patients don’t wear their psychographic profiles on their sleeves when they enter the clinic. However, providers can infer preferences based on hyperlocal data about the prevailing profile in their communities. For example, according to Trilliant Health data, Willful Endurers represent the predominant psychographic profile in the lowest vaccination counties in Florida (44.6%) and Massachusetts (36.6%), and Self Achievers make up the largest psychographic segment of the least vaccinated county from in Tennessee (37.9%). The choice of the provider location can also be an indicator: Willful endurers, for example, go to emergency rooms seven times more often.

To increase vaccination rates in the US, providers and public health officials cannot take a single approach to convincing vaccine reluctants. Effective communication with people who have not yet been vaccinated requires messages tailored to their health decision profiles.

Sanjula Jain is senior vice president of market strategy and chief research officer for Trilliant Health. Jarrett Lewis is a partner in Public Opinion Strategies.


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