According to Steinmayr, the study also focused on smaller rural communities in which there are fewer options when choosing a family doctor: “The communities were allowed to have a maximum of 10,000 inhabitants and a maximum of ten family doctors”. Municipalities that did not have a general practitioner were also excluded. Of the remaining 1,533 communities, at least one general practitioner who was skeptical about vaccination worked in 54.
“It was also important for us to be able to compare the communities, for example in terms of political mood, demographics, attitudes towards conventional medicine or the like,” Steinmayr continued. The aim was to prove the direct influence of general practitioners on the vaccination behavior of patients apart from other factors.
However, it was not possible to evaluate the statements actually made by general practitioners and thus the influence they had on their patients. “We assume, however, that the ‘Open Letter’ is a manifestation of the doctors’ previous opinion and that similar arguments were made in the practices,” Steinmayr stated.