Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination rates remain low across the United States, with fewer than 40% of girls and just over 21% of boys receiving the recommended vaccine series. Research from Roswell Park Cancer Institute has identified barriers that need to be overcome to improve vaccination rates, as well as possible strategies for doing so. The study has been published online ahead of print in the Journal of Cancer Education.1
Misconceptions Among Parents and Physicians
This research offers practical strategies to help parents and clinicians to overcome barriers in order to increase HPV vaccination rates, which is a real opportunity to prevent thousands of cases of cancer.— Martin Mahoney, MD, PhD
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“Many HPV-related cancers are preventable with the HPV vaccine (Gardasil9), which is a safe and effective vaccine,” says senior author Martin Mahoney, MD, PhD, Professor of Oncology in the Department of Medicine at Roswell Park Cancer Institute. “This research offers practical strategies to help parents and clinicians to overcome barriers in order to increase HPV vaccination rates, which is a real opportunity to prevent thousands of cases of cancer.”
Researchers interviewed 52 clinicians and conducted a survey with 54 parents focusing on experiences, opinions, and ideas about HPV vaccination in the clinical setting, along with family and patient perceptions. Parents expressed the need for more information about HPV-related diseases, HPV vaccines, safety, sexual concerns, and countering misinformation in social media. Clinicians highlighted a need for more education regarding the urgency and importance of HPV vaccination; training on how to effectively communicate a strong, clear recommendation; and ways to optimize office systems to support vaccinations.
Misperceptions among both parents and clinicians suggesting—inaccurately—that HPV vaccination contributes to sexual promiscuity also represent a barrier to effective conversations about the vaccine. Additionally, both clinicians and parents expressed a desire to have HPV vaccine information available outside medical practices and endorsed by school-based education programs.
“This research is novel in that it assesses the views of both parents and clinicians in the same community at the same time,” adds first author Christy Widman, Community Outreach Manager in the Department of Cancer Prevention and Control at Roswell Park. “What we found most striking was the need for education about the HPV vaccine among both parents and clinicians. School-based programming and general media campaigns also emerged as promising avenues for future educational efforts.”
This research was supported, in part, by grants from the National Cancer Institute. ■
Disclosure: For full author disclosures, visit link.springer.com.
1. Widman CA, Rodriguez EM, Saad-Harfouche F, et al: Clinician and parent perspectives on educational needs for increasing adolescent HPV vaccination. J Cancer Educ. September 17, 2016 (early release online).