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Daily Dose: Parental Stigma Toward HPV Vaccine Barrier to Adolescent Uptake

Daily Dose: Distinct Patterns of BP in Early Gestation Predict Hypertensive Disorders / Image Credit: ©New Africa/AdobeStock
©New Africa/AdobeStock

Patient Care brings primary care clinicians a lot of medical news every day—it’s easy to miss an important study. The Daily Dose provides a concise summary of one of the website's leading stories you may not have seen.

Last week, we reported on a study published in the journal Human Vaccines & Immunotherapeutics that aimed to describe the associations between parents’ stigmatizing beliefs about the HPV vaccine, psychosocial antecedents to vaccination, and parents’ intentions to vaccinate their children.

The study

The survey of 512 parents of vaccine-eligible children (girls and boys aged 11 to 17 years) was conducted at Texas Children’s Pediatrics, a network of 51 clinics in the greater Houston area. The average age of parents was 41 years. Participants were mostly women, White, college educated, and privately insured.


Despite 80.5% of parents having positive attitudes toward vaccines in general, 31.6% of parents listed “My child is too young” and 21.3% listed “My child is not having sex” as reasons for not yet vaccinating their child against HPV. Only 3.1% of parents listed “My child might think it’s OK to have sex” as a reason for delaying vaccination.

No statistically significant differences existed in mean self-efficacy scores between parents who did and did not endorse 1 of these 4 stigmatizing beliefs: “My child is too young,” “My child is not having sex,” “It might make my child think it’s OK to have sex,” and “If my child gets the HPV vaccine, he/she may be more likely to have sex.” On the other hand, parents who agreed or strongly agreed with the belief “My child is too young to get a vaccine for a sexually transmitted infection” were significantly more likely to report lower self-efficacy scores in speaking with their physician than parents who disagreed with the belief.

Two stigmatizing beliefs were linked to specific sources of information about the HPV vaccine. Parents who reported the stigmatizing belief “My child is not having sex” were much more likely to rely on health care providers as a source of information than parents who did not report this belief. But parents who reported the stigmatizing belief “It might make my child think it’s OK to have sex” were much more likely to use social media as a source of information.

Authors' comment

"This study adds to the existing literature, highlighting the importance of doctors’ recommendations in favor of the HPV vaccine; not only are they effective, but also they may represent one of the few opportunities to engage parents in thinking about the HPV vaccine and to address parents’ stigmatizing beliefs about the vaccine."

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