Improving access to pediatric check-ups may increase parental awareness of human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines, a new nationwide study reveals.
HPV is a sexually transmitted disease that infects about 14 million people aged 15 to 59 years annually in the United States, with approximately 7 million HPV infections among individuals aged 15 to 24 years. HPV infections cause genital warts and a variety of cancers, including cervical cancer. Although current guidelines recommend standard administration of HPV vaccines for boys and girls at ages 11 to 12 years, less than 34% of US adolescent girls aged 13 to 17 years completed all three doses of HPV vaccines in 2012.
Scientists at Truven Health Analytics and the University of Wisconsin-Madison have identified that parents of children who had a well-child checkup in the last 12 months were significantly more likely to have heard of HPV vaccines. These findings highlight the idea that pediatricians and family healthcare providers may serve as an important lifeline for HPV vaccine-related information for parents.
The researchers examined data on 5735 parents of children between the ages of 8 and 17 years from the 2010 National Health Interview Survey, a nationally representative sample of the US population. The goal of this study was to determine factors related to parental awareness of HPV vaccines in the United States.
Important findings from the study include:
• Female parents and parents of female children had higher odds of having heard of HPV vaccines than did male parents and parents of male children.
• Parents of uninsured children and parents whose child had not received a checkup in the past year were less likely to have heard of HPV vaccines.
• Parents whose primary language was not English and parents who were born outside the United States had significantly lower odds of HPV vaccines awareness.
• Parents who were married or living with a partner, more educated and who had higher income were also more likely to be aware of HPV vaccines.
"Improving access to preventive pediatric health care could offer an opportunity to increase parental awareness," said Whitney Witt, PhD, MPH, director, behavioral health and quality research at Truven Health Analytics and the lead author of the study. "Providing culturally sensitive information in a variety of languages may also be an effective way to reach vulnerable groups."
Dr. Witt and a team of 140 researchers at Truven Health are focused on healthcare issues. They use survey data like that from the Household Interviews, as well as administrative healthcare data from the well established Truven Health MarketScan® Research Databases in their respected studies, including 134 in 2013 alone, for AHRQ and other government agencies.