Attitudes and Beliefs about Human Papillomavirus Vaccine among Adolescents and Parents in North-Central Wisconsin

Rebecca Sutich
University of Illinois

Rebecca M. Sutich, Jeffrey J. VanWormer
Center for Clinical Epidemiology & Population Health

Research area: Epidemiology

Background: Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted infection and causes cervical and many oral cancers.  HPV vaccine is recommended for all adolescents, but uptake remains low. Reasons for this are poorly understood. This study characterized HPV vaccine attitudes and beliefs among parents and adolescents in north-central Wisconsin, and identified factors associated with more favorable attitudes toward HPV vaccination. 

Methods: Participants included 15-17 year old adolescents, and parents of 11-17 year old adolescents, who had not completed HPV vaccination and who received primary care at one of seven Marshfield Clinic centers. Participants were mailed a survey that included the Carolina HPV Immunization Attitudes and Beliefs Scale (CHIAS) and other covariates. Multivariable linear regression was performed to identify sociodemographic and clinical predictors of CHIAS scores in both parents and adolescents.

Results: Of 147 adolescent respondents, those who discussed the HPV vaccine with their parents or whose parents had a college degree had a significantly (p < 0.05) lower overall CHIAS score (i.e., more favorable HPV vaccine attitude) compared to adolescents who did not discuss the HPV vaccine with their parents or whose parents did not have a college degree. Adolescents who received Tdap and meningococcal vaccines or prior season influenza vaccine had significantly lower overall CHIAS scores. Of 221 parent respondents, those who received a provider recommendation for their adolescent to get the HPV vaccine or whose adolescent received the prior season influenza vaccine had a significantly lower overall CHIAS score. Parents with higher income also had significantly lower overall CHIAS scores.

Conclusions: Findings highlighted the importance of having received other prior vaccines, as well as parent-adolescent and provider-parent conversations about HPV. Higher parental education and household income were also associated with more favorable HPV vaccine attitudes, perhaps indicating greater HPV education needs in families with lower socioeconomic status.