Parental Response to HPV vaccination

Parents differ in attitudes towards human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination of their children. HPV vaccination is available to children as young as 9. It has been shown to be effective in preventing cervical cancer.1

Researchers from the Florida State University College of Medicine sought to uncover the various factors associated with HPV vaccine uptake. Survey responses of 82 parents visiting pediatricians’ offices in the southeastern United States were used for this study. Results showed that some of the factors associated with receiving the vaccine included daughter’s age, physician recommendation, and parental knowledge and beliefs regarding HPV vaccination.2

The vaccinated girls were older compared to the unvaccinated girls (13.7 years vs. 11.9 years, P<0.05). All of the parents of the vaccinated girls had received a recommendation from their physician to vaccinate their daughters. Only about half of the parents of unvaccinated girls had received such a recommendation. Parents of vaccinated girls were less fearful of vaccine-related side effects and more optimistic about the benefits of the vaccine to their daughter’s health (P<0.05).2 In addition, the parents of vaccinated girls viewed HPV vaccination as an opportunity to discuss sex with their children (P<0.001).2

The study was a limited because it only included parents in a pediatric clinic in the southeastern United States who agreed to take the study survey. Parents who participated in the study had higher incomes and more education than the average American. Nearly half of eligible daughters had already been vaccinated, which is nearly twice the national average.3 While this study confirms many findings from other studies on parental attitudes toward HPV vaccination,5 further studies may wish to reach a more representative sample of parents.

Parents need to be educated about HPV infection and the HPV vaccine. Physicians and healthcare providers should talk to parents about the risks of HPV infection as well as the risks and benefits of the vaccination. Parents also need to talk openly with their children about sexual health. By receiving clear and accurate information from health professionals, parents will be prepared to communicate openly with their children to guide them toward the healthiest decisions and brightest futures.

References:

1.Steinbrook R. The potential of human papillomavirus vaccines. N Engl J Med. 2006;354 (11):1109–1112.
2.Gerend MA, Weibley E, Bland H. Parental response to human papillomavirus vaccine availability: Uptake and intentions. J Adolesc Health. 2009;45 (5):528-531.
3.US Census Bureau. Selected Characteristics of Families by Total Money Income in 2007. Available online at: http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/macro/032008/faminc/new01_001.htm. Accessed February 24, 2010.
4.Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). National, state, and local area vaccination coverage among adolescents aged 13-17 years–United States, 2008. MMWR. 2009;58(36):997-1001. Available online at: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5836a2.htm. Accessed March 23, 2010.
5.Dempsey AF, Zimet GD, Davis RL, et al. Factors that are associated with parental acceptance of human papillomavirus vaccines: A randomized intervention study of written information about HPV. Pediatrics 2006;117:1486-1493.

Reviewed: April 2010

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