Participation in a School-Based HPV Vaccination Program

Cooper Robbins, S. C., McCaffery, K., Brotherton, J. M. L., & Skinner, S. R. (2010). “I just signed”: Factors influencing decision-making for school-based HPV vaccination of adolescent girls. Health Psychology, 29(6), 618-625.

Research on decisions about HPV vaccination has focused primarily on attitudes as opposed to behavior. These studies have found more favorable attitudes among parents with older adolescents, greater knowledge about or experience with HPV, greater perceptions of risk, and exposure to the positive recommendations of authority figures. On the other hand, parents who perceive their children to be at low risk of contracting HPV or who view the vaccine as encouraging sexual activity tend to have more negative attitudes about the vaccine. Studies also show that situational factors, such as the cost of the vaccine and whether it is administered by trusted sources, may impact compliance. Cooper Robbins, McCaffery, Brotherton, and Skinner (2010) used focus groups with girls and interviews with parents in nine Australia schools to investigate decision making about participating in a school-based HPV vaccination program. These schools ranged in completion rate for the three-dose vaccine from 64% to 90%. As a result of the focus groups and interviews, students were placed in one of five categories: (1) active decision making – vaccinated, (2) passive decision making – vaccinated, (3) active decision making – not vaccinated, (4) passive decision making – not vaccinated, and (5) anti-vaccination (do not support vaccination in general). Active decision makers had discussions with family or friends about the HPV vaccination. The decision to be vaccinated for those in the active decision making group tended to depend on core health beliefs as well as trust of, and experiences with, the medical system. Other factors discussed among students and parents in this group included media messages about HPV, the convenience of school delivery, and attitudes about sex. Those in the passive decision making group appeared not to have discussed the vaccination and vaccination participation depended on whether the parent signed the consent form. The authors concluded that their results indicate the need for high quality educational interventions to address the concerns that act as barriers to participating in HPV vaccination programs.

Making Connections

Decision making

Media Supplement

Under U.S. federal health care law, school-based health clinics are receiving new fund. Hear about how this affects students and their families in this NPR podcast, Health Centers At Schools Get A Funding Boost. [4 min 37 sec]

A variety of resources are available on the myths and realities of vaccinations from the PBS Frontline site for the film The Vaccine War.