Effect of patient COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy on hospital care team perceptions

Inbar Caspi, Ophir Freund*, Omer Pines, Odelia Elkana, Jacob N. Ablin, Gil Bornstein

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic posed new challenges in patient care worldwide. Vaccinations, which have proven efficacious in lowering the COVID-19 hospital burden, are still avoided by large populations. We, therefore, hypothesized that hospital care teams would have worse perceptions regarding the characteristics and care of patients with vaccine hesitancy. AIM To evaluate whether patient vaccine hesitancy affected the hospital care team (HCT) perceptions. METHODS We performed a prospective clinical study using structured questionnaires. We approached physicians and nurses with previous experience caring for COVID-19 patients from 11 medical centers across Israel during the fourth COVID-19 surge (September and October 2021). The participants completed a questionnaire with the following parts: (1) Sociodemographic characteristics; (2) Assessment of anger (STAXI instrument) and chronic workplace stress (Shirom-Melamed burnout measure); and (3) Three tools to assess the effect of patient vaccine hesitancy on the HCT perceptions (the difficult doctor-patient relation questionnaire, the medical staff perception of patient’s responsibility questionnaire and the characterological derogation questionnaire). Results were evaluated according to each part of the questionnaire and the questionnaire as a whole. Associations between HCT perceptions and their baseline characteristics, anger or chronic workplace stress were assessed. RESULTS The HCT experienced their relationship with unvaccinated patients as more difficult (P < 0.001, Cohen’s d = 0.85), perceived unvaccinated patients as responsible for their medical condition (P < 0.001, d = 1.39) and perceived vaccinated patients as having a higher character value (P < 0.001, d = 1.03). Unvaccinated patients were considered selfish (P < 0.001), less mature (P < 0.001) and less satisfying to care for (P < 0.001). The relationship with unvaccinated patients was more difficult among HCT with higher burnout (r = 0.37, n = 66, P = 0.002). No correlations with baseline characteristics were found. All three study tools showed high internal consistency (α between 0.72 and 0.845). CONCLUSION Our results should raise awareness of the possible effects of vaccine hesitancy on HCT perceptions regarding unvaccinated patients. In order to minimize the potential negative impact on patient care, designated departments should promote specific patient-centered preparations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)821-829
Number of pages9
JournalWorld Journal of Clinical Cases
Issue number4
StatePublished - 6 Feb 2023


  • Attitudes
  • Covid-19
  • Doctor-patient relationship
  • Hesitancy
  • Patient care
  • Vaccination


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