202554 Why so young? Age and HPV vaccination acceptability for 11-12 year old girls

Wednesday, November 11, 2009: 1:10 PM

Sandra J. Diehl, MPH , Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC
Autumn S. Shafer, MA , School of Journalism and Mass Communication, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC
Heather K. Gates, MPH , Public Health Consultant, Hendersonville, NC
Joan R. Cates, PhD, MPH , School of Journalism, UNC-Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC
Background: Routine HPV vaccination is recommended for 11-12 year old girls. Despite the vaccine's availability for more than two years and evidence pointing to its safety and efficacy, vaccine uptake remains low. We compare attitudes, beliefs, and knowledge among key stakeholders as a foundation to intervention design.

Methods: Data were collected from 4 NC counties with relatively high rates of cervical cancer. We conducted 14 key informant interviews with health, school, and community leaders and 4 focus groups (n=40) with mothers of girls ages 11-12 who had not received the vaccination. Researchers identified key themes using content analysis techniques.

Findings: Mothers expressed (1) awareness of the vaccine but a limited basis for informed decision-making; (2) a desire to protect daughters from cervical cancer but acknowledgment that other health issues were more immediate; (3) some misunderstanding about the vaccine's recommendation at that age, often making a link between the vaccine and sexual activity; (4) a fear of unknown side effects, which took mothers in two directions – a willingness to ‘take a chance,' or conversely, a reluctance to assume responsibility for making the decision for their daughter; (5) a sense of feeling ‘pushed' to get the vaccine. Key informant responses generally reflected mothers' opinions, however one concern voiced only by informants was the vaccine's perceived irrelevance among parents with conservative values.

Conclusion: Multiple perspectives will inform our intervention to encourage wider adoption of the vaccine. Particular attention will be paid to addressing misconceptions and presenting clear rationale for vaccinating at this age.

Learning Objectives:
1. To describe how recommended age for vaccination influences stakeholders' attitudes and beliefs toward HPV vaccination; 2. To compare and contrast stakeholder perspectives related to HPV vaccine uptake; and 3. To discuss how these multiple perspectives shaped a multi-component intervention to encourage wider adoption of the HPV vaccine among 11-12 year olds.

Keywords: Cancer Prevention, Intervention

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have conducted studies analyzing communication issues related to HPV and HPV vaccines for over 10 years. I am the PI for formative and evaluation research on this study of a multi-county social marketing campaign.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.