Interviewing Parents in Japan: Progress Report

Japan’s Parent Interviews: Progress Report

The Japanese team consists of Dr. Kei Hirai (health psychologist), Dr. Mao Yagihashi (clinical psychologist), and me (social psychologist). Forty parents with children were interviewed over a two-month period from December 2021 to January 2022. Participants were recruited through a crowdsourcing service and the interviews were conducted online using Zoom. It was thanks to Mao’s hard work that we were able to talk to such a large number of people within two months. Without the COVID-19 pandemic, such an interview would have been difficult to conduct (for both researchers and participants), and it might have been more difficult to recruit participants. The interview transcripts were analyzed by Mao and five RAs (three graduate students and two undergraduate students in psychology). Please see our report for more details.

In Japan, the COVID-19 pandemic has calmed down (perhaps temporarily), and the hesitancy to vaccinate children seems to have increased since the time of the interviews. We would like to hear what the interviewees think now, if we can.
Through the analysis of the interviews, we were able to learn about variations in parents’ attitudes toward their children’s health risks. We also learned that we still do not provide enough appropriate information. We hope that the younger RAs will use this valuable experience for their own research in the future. The following is a list of comments from each RA.

MB: I found the interviews to be extremely interesting. Participating in the analysis process made me realize that teamwork and exchange of ideas are very important in quantitative research. I know a few vaccine-hesitant people; I feel like taking part in the analysis of this study allowed me to better understand the way they think. I think this is a really important study; hopefully it will help explain the phenomenon of vaccine hesitancy and help people make better choices about their health in the future.

KY: In this analysis work, I confirmed the narratives of those who are worried about vaccination, as information about the COVID-19 is overflowing in Japan. This could be considered as a problem of people’s information literacy. However, my personal opinion on the Japanese media is that it is important to report information on the COVID-19 to the public after carefully examining the opinions of experts, rather than speculating on stories. Finally, I believe that the significance of this study goes beyond the framework of COVID-19 and can accumulate knowledge on the state of the media and people’s information literacy. I appreciate having been involved in this analysis.

MZ: It was a very interesting experience to read and analyze through the interview scripts. On one hand, some reasons listed by different participants supporting and/or going against the vaccine were convincing.  I could relate to their concerns about the vaccine while balancing the merits of getting vaccinated. On the other hand, some aspects of the possible concerns and reasonings to participants’ views about the vaccine that I’ve never thought of. In particular, I see a lot of connections to people’s reasons for either getting or not getting the vaccine and the trends of opinions to the cultural background. For example, within the different reasons that were listed, peer pressure and trust for the government stood up to me and I was surprised how often these were mentioned.

MO: This research assistance was a great experience for me. I learned that parents’ viewpoints and attitudes can differ between when they decide to get vaccinated for themselves and when they decide to get vaccinated for their children. I also felt they tried to gather various information and think deeply about vaccination. I hope that many people get the information they want about the vaccine.

YK: It was interesting to learn about people’s attitudes toward vaccination from the content of the interviews. It was very difficult to categorize the attitudes toward vaccines because they consist of various backgrounds of each individual. I am very much looking forward to comparing the results between Japan and the UK.

Asako Miura
Graduate School of Human Sciences, Osaka University, Japan