A belief-based model for characterizing the spread of awareness and its impacts on individuals' vaccination decisions

Shang Xia, Jiming LIU*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

40 Citations (Scopus)


During an epidemic, individuals' decisions on whether or not to take vaccine may affect the dynamics of disease spread and, therefore, the effectiveness of disease control. Empirical studies have shown that such decisions can be subjected to individuals' awareness about disease and vaccine, such as their perceived disease severity and vaccine safety. The aim of this paper is to gain a better understanding of individuals' vaccination behaviour by modelling the spread of awareness in a group of socially connected individuals and examining the associated impacts on their vaccination decision-making. In our model, we examine whether or not individuals will get vaccinated as well as when they would. In doing so, we consider three possible decisions from an individual, i.e. to accept, to reject, and yet to decide, and further associate them with a set of belief values. Next, we extend the Dempster-Shafer theory to characterize individuals' belief value updates and their decision-making, having incorporated the awareness obtained from their connected neighbours. Furthermore, we examine two factors that will affect individuals' vaccination decisions: (i) reporting rates of disease- and vaccine-related events, and (ii) fading coefficient of awareness spread. By doing so, we can assess the impacts of awareness spread by evaluating the vaccination dynamics in terms of the number of vaccinated individuals. The results have demonstrated that the former influences the ratio of vaccinated individuals, whereas the latter affects the time when individuals decide to take vaccine.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20140013
JournalJournal of the Royal Society Interface
Issue number94
Publication statusPublished - 6 May 2014

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Biophysics
  • Bioengineering
  • Biomaterials
  • Biochemistry
  • Biomedical Engineering

User-Defined Keywords

  • Awareness
  • Belief model
  • Vaccination decision


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