Nav: Home

Parents see cancer prevention potential as best reason for HPV vaccination

June 14, 2018

Bottom Line: Parents of adolescents believed that the potential to prevent certain types of cancer is the best reason for their children to receive the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, whereas other reasons health care providers often give were far less persuasive.

Journal in Which the Study was Published: Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.

Author: Melissa B. Gilkey, PhD, assistant professor of Health Behavior at the University of North Carolina Gillings School of Global Public Health in Chapel Hill.

Background: "HPV causes over 40,000 cancers in the U.S. each year, including cancers of the cervix, vagina, vulva, penis, anus, and back of the throat. Most of these cases are potentially preventable through HPV vaccination," Gilkey said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) currently recommends that boys and girls receive two doses of the HPV vaccine, beginning at age 11 or 12. As of 2016, about 60 percent of teenagers had received the first dose, but only about 43 percent were up to date on all recommended doses, according to the CDC.

"We still have work to do on improving the timeliness of those doses and on reaching the remaining 40 percent of young people who have not started HPV vaccination," Gilkey said. "To increase uptake, we need to more effectively communicate the value of HPV vaccination to parents."

How the Study Was Conducted: In this study, Gilkey and colleagues developed a best-worst scaling experiment to evaluate 11 reasons health care providers typically give for HPV vaccination. The experiment was administered in 2016 via a national, online survey of 1,177 parents of adolescents ages 11-17. Fifty-seven percent of the parents had initiated HPV vaccination.

Results: Parents said "it can prevent some types of cancer" was the best reason to get the HPV vaccination. Parents also felt that "it can prevent a common infection;" "it has lasting benefits;" and "it is a safe vaccine" were persuasive reasons.

Parents said the worst reasons providers could give included "it is a scientific breakthrough;" "I got it for my own child;" and "your child is due for it."

Messages ranked in the middle were "it works best at this age;" "it should be given before sexual contact;" "getting it on time may mean fewer shots;" and "I think it is important."

The researchers used stratified analyses to evaluate whether the parents' opinions would vary depending on their overall confidence in vaccines. Gilkey said she was surprised to discover that vaccine confidence did not appear to significantly affect parents' perceptions of physicians' messages, and cancer prevention was the most effective message for both groups.

Author's Comments: The study augments previous research that suggested the way in which physicians discuss the HPV vaccine may affect parents' decisions on whether to have their children get the vaccine.

"Our prior research indicates that providers give many different reasons for HPV vaccination, and the findings of this study suggest that they may do better to streamline their communication," Gilkey said. "Cancer prevention is likely to be your best bet no matter who you're talking to."

"Cancer prevention was clearly the most convincing reason for HPV vaccination. Reasons that have to do with sexual activity, scientific novelty, or providers' decisions for their own children may ultimately be distractions that are best avoided," she continued.

Study Limitations: Gilkey pointed out that the study evaluated parents' perceptions about what would motivate them to vaccinate their children, and may not fully reflect real-life conversations during an office visit. Also, because the reasons were ranked, those that were ranked lower may have been less persuasive than the top-ranked messages, but are not objectively "bad" messages to use in discussing HPV vaccination, she said.

Funding & Disclosures: This study was supported by a grant from the National Cancer Institute. The authors declare no conflicts of interest.
-end-


American Association for Cancer Research

Related Cancer Articles:

Stress in cervical cancer patients associated with higher risk of cancer-specific mortality
Psychological stress was associated with a higher risk of cancer-specific mortality in women diagnosed with cervical cancer.
Cancer-sniffing dogs 97% accurate in identifying lung cancer, according to study in JAOA
The next step will be to further fractionate the samples based on chemical and physical properties, presenting them back to the dogs until the specific biomarkers for each cancer are identified.
Moffitt Cancer Center researchers identify one way T cell function may fail in cancer
Moffitt Cancer Center researchers have discovered a mechanism by which one type of immune cell, CD8+ T cells, can become dysfunctional, impeding its ability to seek and kill cancer cells.
More cancer survivors, fewer cancer specialists point to challenge in meeting care needs
An aging population, a growing number of cancer survivors, and a projected shortage of cancer care providers will result in a challenge in delivering the care for cancer survivors in the United States if systemic changes are not made.
New cancer vaccine platform a potential tool for efficacious targeted cancer therapy
Researchers at the University of Helsinki have discovered a solution in the form of a cancer vaccine platform for improving the efficacy of oncolytic viruses used in cancer treatment.
American Cancer Society outlines blueprint for cancer control in the 21st century
The American Cancer Society is outlining its vision for cancer control in the decades ahead in a series of articles that forms the basis of a national cancer control plan.
Oncotarget: Cancer pioneer employs physics to approach cancer in last research article
In the cover article of Tuesday's issue of Oncotarget, James Frost, MD, PhD, Kenneth Pienta, MD, and the late Donald Coffey, Ph.D., use a theory of physical and biophysical symmetry to derive a new conceptualization of cancer.
Health indicators for newborns of breast cancer survivors may vary by cancer type
In a study published in the International Journal of Cancer, researchers from the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center analyzed health indicators for children born to young breast cancer survivors in North Carolina.
Few women with history of breast cancer and ovarian cancer take a recommended genetic test
More than 80 percent of women living with a history of breast or ovarian cancer at high-risk of having a gene mutation have never taken the test that can detect it.
Radiotherapy for invasive breast cancer increases the risk of second primary lung cancer
East Asian female breast cancer patients receiving radiotherapy have a higher risk of developing second primary lung cancer.
More Cancer News and Cancer Current Events

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2019.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Risk
Why do we revere risk-takers, even when their actions terrify us? Why are some better at taking risks than others? This hour, TED speakers explore the alluring, dangerous, and calculated sides of risk. Guests include professional rock climber Alex Honnold, economist Mariana Mazzucato, psychology researcher Kashfia Rahman, structural engineer and bridge designer Ian Firth, and risk intelligence expert Dylan Evans.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#541 Wayfinding
These days when we want to know where we are or how to get where we want to go, most of us will pull out a smart phone with a built-in GPS and map app. Some of us old timers might still use an old school paper map from time to time. But we didn't always used to lean so heavily on maps and technology, and in some remote places of the world some people still navigate and wayfind their way without the aid of these tools... and in some cases do better without them. This week, host Rachelle Saunders...
Now Playing: Radiolab

Dolly Parton's America: Neon Moss
Today on Radiolab, we're bringing you the fourth episode of Jad's special series, Dolly Parton's America. In this episode, Jad goes back up the mountain to visit Dolly's actual Tennessee mountain home, where she tells stories about her first trips out of the holler. Back on the mountaintop, standing under the rain by the Little Pigeon River, the trip triggers memories of Jad's first visit to his father's childhood home, and opens the gateway to dizzying stories of music and migration. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.