An Opportunity for Cancer Prevention During Preadolescence and Adolescence: Stopping Human Papillomavirus (HPV)-Related Cancer Through HPV Vaccination

Objective We conducted a descriptive study of the correlates of refusal and acceptance of human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination by rural parents of preadolescent and adolescent children. We hypothesized that the correlates of parents who allow their children aged 9 to 13 years to get the HPV vaccine and those of parents who do not allow vaccination would differ significantly.

Methods This cross-sectional study was implemented during the school years 2009–2011 in the elementary and middle schools of three rural counties in Georgia. Parents were recruited at school functions to complete an anonymous validated survey.

Results Parents who chose to vaccinate their children or intended to vaccinate were twice as likely to be from a race other than African American and 2.7 times more likely to have a religion other than Baptist. Using stepwise logistic regression and after adjustment for race and religion, we found that parents who had vaccinated or intended to vaccinate had significantly higher scores on perceived barriers (1.02 times more likely to vaccinate) and lower scores on perceived benefits (1.01 times more likely to vaccinate) (model p < .001).

Conclusions The results suggest that healthcare providers in rural areas can increase HPV vaccine uptake and reduce HPV-related cancers by using a multifaceted approach to educating their patients within the context of the patients’ cultural values, geographic location, and economic situation. Such an approach could dispel misinformation and increase vaccine uptake.