Embracing context: lessons from designing a dialogue-based intervention to address vaccine hesitancy

ToTran Nguyen, Lise Boey, Carla Van Riet, Stef Dielen, Helene Dodion, Tamara Giles-Vernick, Nico Vandaele, Heidi J. Larson, Koen Peeters Grietens, Charlotte Gryseels, Leonardo W. Heyerdahl

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Dialogue with people who are vaccine hesitant has been recommended as a method to increase vaccination uptake. The process of cultivating dialogue is shaped by the context in which it occurs, yet the development of interventions addressing vaccine hesitancy with dialogue often overlooks the role of context and favors relatively fixed solutions. This reflexive paper shares three key lessons related to context for dialogue-based interventions. These lessons emerged during a participatory research project to develop a pilot intervention to create open dialogue among healthcare workers in Belgium about COVID-19 vaccination concerns. Through a mixed methods study consisting of in-depth interviews, focus group discussions, and surveys, we engaged healthcare workers in the design, testing, and evaluation of a digital platform featuring text-based and video-based (face-to-face) interactions. The lessons are: (1) what dialogue means, entails, and requires can vary for a population and context, (2) inherent tension exists between helping participants voice (and overcome) their concerns and exposing them to others' ideas that may exacerbate those concerns, and (3) interactional exchanges (e.g., with peers or experts) that matter to participants may shape the dialogue in terms of its content and form. We suggest that having a discovery-orientation-meaning to work not only inductively and iteratively but also reflexively-is a necessary part of the development of dialogue-based interventions. Our case also sheds light on the influences between: dialogue topic/content, socio-political landscape, population, intervention aim, dialogue form, ethics, researcher position, and types of interactional exchanges.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1069199
JournalFrontiers in Public Health
Pages (from-to)1069199
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • COVID-19
  • COVID-19 Vaccines
  • Humans
  • Vaccination
  • Vaccination Hesitancy
  • Vaccines


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