A study comparing parental attitudes of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine in three countries indicates both low and high HPV knowledge may be associated with lower rates of vaccination, and parents’ country and gender also impact the likelihood of adolescents being immunized, reported Brooke Nickel, of the University of Sydney, and associates.
Of 179 parents with a daughter aged 9-17 years from the United States, United Kingdom, or Australia who took part in an online HPV vaccine opinion survey in 2011, 59% reported that their daughters had received HPV vaccination – 43% in the United States cohort, 63% in the United Kingdom cohort, and 76% in the Australian cohort.
(P less than .001). Parents who had either low knowledge scores or high knowledge scores were less likely to have their daughters vaccinated; U.S. parents and men across all countries also were less likely to vaccinate their daughters.
Among the parents whose daughters did not receive the HPV vaccine, worry about the vaccine’s side effects was significantly more prevalent among the U.S. parents (61%) than among parents in the United Kingdom (36%) or among parents in Australia (15%) (P less than .05). U.S. parents who did not have their daughters get the HPV vaccine also were more likely to agree that getting all three HPV vaccine doses would be a “big hassle” (21%), compared with the United Kingdom cohort (0%) and the Australian cohort (8%) (P less than .05).
Parents from the United States also were significantly more likely to agree that the HPV vaccine was too new so they would want to wait before deciding to get it for their daughters (45%), compared with the parents in the United Kingdom (23%) and those in Australia (8%) (P less than .05).
“This finding was unexpected, given that advertising about HPV contributed to an increased awareness of HPV in the United States at the time of data collection. It is important to note, however, that this survey was conducted in 2011, and therefore attitudes of U.S. parents now may differ,” the researchers wrote.
Nonetheless, parents of unvaccinated daughters with higher knowledge scores overall were more likely to believe that they would want to be on the safe side and vaccinate their daughters at some time (74%) compared with parents who had lower knowledge scores (27%) (P less than .001).
“Parents from the United States with unvaccinated daughters more often believed that getting all three doses of the HPV vaccine would be a significant obstacle, not surprisingly as the HPV vaccine distribution in the United States is predominantly available through physicians’ clinics and medical centers, whereas in the United Kingdom and Australia, free school-based and catch-up programs are offered,” the investigators said.
Read more in Preventive Medicine Reports ().