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Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2015 Nov;24(11):1673-9. doi: 10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-15-0326. Epub 2015 Oct 22.

Quality of physician communication about human papillomavirus vaccine: findings from a national survey.

Author information

1
Department of Population Medicine, Harvard Medical School and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute, Boston, Massachusetts. gilkey@email.unc.edu.
2
Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Department of Health Behavior, Gillings School of Global Public Health, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
3
Department of Health Behavior, Gillings School of Global Public Health, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Improving the quality of physicians' recommendations for human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination is critical to addressing low coverage. Thus, we sought to describe HPV vaccine communication practices among primary care physicians.

METHODS:

Pediatricians and family physicians (n = 776) completed our national online survey in 2014. We assessed the quality of their HPV vaccine recommendations on strength of endorsement (i.e., saying the vaccine is important), timeliness (recommending it by ages 11-12), consistency (recommending it routinely vs. using a risk-based approach), and urgency (recommending same-day vaccination).

RESULTS:

A sizeable minority of physicians reported that they do not strongly endorse HPV vaccine (27%) or deliver timely recommendations for girls (26%) or boys (39%). Many physicians (59%) used a risk-based approach to recommending HPV vaccine, and only half (51%) usually recommended same-day vaccination. Overall recommendation quality was lower among physicians who were uncomfortable talking about HPV vaccine or who believed parents did not value it. Quality was higher among physicians who began discussions by saying the child was due for HPV vaccine versus giving information or eliciting questions.

CONCLUSION:

Many physicians in our national sample reported recommending HPV vaccine inconsistently, behind schedule, or without urgency. These practices likely contribute to under-immunization among adolescents, and may convey ambivalence to parents.

IMPACT:

As one of the first studies to assess multiple aspects of recommendation quality, these findings can inform the many state and national initiatives that aim to improve communication about HPV vaccine so as to address the persistent underuse of a powerful tool for cancer prevention.

Comment in

PMID:
26494764
PMCID:
PMC4633386
DOI:
10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-15-0326
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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