March 10 (UPI) -- Researchers at Rutgers University found in a recent study that doctors who schedule flu shots for their patients see a dramatic increase in vaccination rates.
The study showed patients were three times more likely to get a flu shot when their physicians make appointments for them than when they are encouraged to make appointments themselves.
"Vaccination is the single most important thing to do to prevent communicative diseases, and not nearly enough people get vaccinated," Gretchen Chapman, a professor of psychology in the School of Arts and Sciences at Rutgers University, said in a press release. "Prescheduled appointments are a simple intervention that clinics can use to increase vaccination rates."
Researchers split 886 patients into three groups; appointments made by doctors, patients encouraged to make appointments themselves and patients who received no instruction at all.
They found about 16 percent of patients who had appointments for vaccinations made by their doctor showed up for the appointment, but just 5 percent of patients who were encouraged to make their own appointments got their vaccine and only 2 percent who received no instructions got vaccinated.
"Every year, the particular group of viruses is mutable, keeps modifying genetically, so the shot you got last year may not work this year," Elaine Leventhal, a professor of medicine at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, said.
The study was published in the journal Behavioral Science and Policy.