Screening and vaccination as determined by the Social Ecological Model and the Theory of Triadic Influence: a systematic review

Anayawa Nyambe*, Guido Van Hal, Jarl K. Kampen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Vaccination and screening are forms of primary and secondary prevention methods. These methods are recommended for controlling the spread of a vast number of diseases and conditions. To determine the most effective preventive methods to be used by a society, multi-level models have shown to be more effective than models that focus solely on individual level characteristics. The Social Ecological Model (SEM) and the Theory of Triadic Influence (TTI) are such models. The purpose of this systematic review was to identify main differences and similarities of SEM and TTI regarding screening and vaccination in order to prepare potentially successful prevention programs for practice. Methods: A systematic review was conducted. Separate literature searches were performed during January and February 2015 using Medline, Ovid, Proquest, PubMed, University of Antwerp Discovery Service and Web of Science, for articles that apply the SEM and TTI. A Data Extraction Form with mostly closed-end questions was developed to assist with data extraction. Aggregate descriptive statistics were utilized to summarize the general characteristics of the SEM and TTI as documented in the scientific literature. Results: A total of 290 potentially relevant articles referencing the SEM were found. As for the TTI, a total of 131 potentially relevant articles were found. After strict evaluation for inclusion and exclusion criteria, 40 SEM studies and 46 TTI studies were included in the systematic review. Conclusions: The SEM and TTI are theoretical frameworks that share many theoretical concepts and are relevant for several types of health behaviors. However, they differ in the structure of the model, and in how the variables are thought to interact with each other, the TTI being a matrix while the SEM has a ring structure. The main difference consists of the division of the TTI into levels of causation (ultimate, distal and proximal) which are not considered within the levels of the SEM. It was further found that in the articles studied in this systematic review, both models are often considered effective, while the empirical basis of these (and other) conclusions reached by their authors is in many cases unclear or incompletely specified.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages15
JournalBMC Public Health
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Multi-level ecological models
  • Screening
  • Social Ecological Model
  • Theory of Triadic Influence
  • Vaccination


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