Study: Cancer prevention resonates with parent messages on HPV vaccine

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A survey of parents found that, of several reasons health providers give to support human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination, preventing cancer was most persuasive, researchers reported today in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention.

The CDC recommends that girls and boys receive two HPV vaccine doses starting at age 11, but uptake is well below target levels.

In an online national survey conducted in 2016, researchers asked 1,177 parents of children ages 11 to 17 to rate 11 reasons health providers typically give to make the case for HPV vaccination. Among the group, 57% of parents had initiated HPV vaccination for their children.

Preventing some types of cancer was the top reason for immunization, the study found. Preventing common infections, providing lasting benefits, and being a safe vaccine were also persuasive reasons, according to the report. The least convincing reasons were that the vaccine was a scientific breakthrough, health providers had their kids immunized, and that patients were due to receive the HPV vaccine.

Melissa Gilkey, PhD, study coauthor and assistant professor of health behavior at the University of North Carolina, said in a press release from the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), the journal's publisher, said the findings suggest doctors could streamline their communications with parents about HPV vaccination.

"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 said.

Jun 14 Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev abstract

Jun 14 AACR press release


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