Determinants of human papillomavirus vaccine attitudes: an interview of Wisconsin parents
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Determinants of human papillomavirus vaccine attitudes: an interview of Wisconsin parents

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  • English

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    • Alternative Title:
      BMC Public Health
    • Description:

      Parental attitudes play a key role in their decisions to vaccinate adolescents against the human papillomavirus (HPV). Little is known, however, about the formative experiences that shape parents’ attitudes about the HPV vaccine.


      We conducted semi-structured interviews with 25 parents of 11–17 year old adolescents in Wisconsin who changed their HPV vaccine attitudes (per prior surveys) over one year. A modified grounded theory approach was then used to generate primary themes of attitudinal determinants.


      Participants were predominately mothers. We identified three major themes that shaped parents’ HPV attitudes: (1) the perceived likelihood of the HPV vaccine preventing cancer, (2) agency in adolescence and gauging their adolescent child’s intent for sexual activity, (3) the credibility of HPV vaccine information sources. General messaging around cancer prevention did not always supersede some parents’ concerns about the vaccine’s perceived link to sexual activity. Parents often viewed their adolescent child’s feelings about the HPV vaccine as a gauge of their (child’s) intent for sexual activity. Interviewees felt a sense of responsibility to educate themselves about the HPV vaccine using multiple sources and particularly looked to their medical provider to filter conflicting information.


      More family-specific (vs. disease-prevention) messaging and recommendations may be needed in the clinical environment to sway some parents’ negative attitudes about the HPV vaccine. Future research should explore additional strategies to improve HPV vaccine attitudes, such as situating the vaccine in the context of a monogamous lifestyle that many parents wish to impart to their children.

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