Better communication improves HPV vaccination rate: Study

Researchers at the University of Colorado found improved training and customized fact sheets were the most used and useful for medical professionals educating patients and parents about the vaccine.

By Allen Cone

March 6 (UPI) -- Better communication by healthcare professionals can increase HPV vaccination initiation and completion among both girls and boys, report researchers in Colorado.

Researchers at the University of Colorado in Denver specifically found communication training and customized HPV fact sheets were the most used and useful among five resources they tested, according to study results published Monday in the Journal of American Medical Association. The other resources were a parent education website, images depicting diseases associated with HPV and a decision aid for HPV vaccination.


"I think there's growing evidence that communicating information about the vaccine impacts whether an adolescent will get it," Dr. Amanda F. Dempsey, an associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Colorado Denver Children's Outcomes Research Program, told UPI.

In the United States each year, about 39,800 new cases of cancer are found in parts of the body where human papillomavirus, or HPV, is often found, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. HPV is often found in parts of the body that include the cervix, vagina, vulva, penis, anus, rectum, and oropharynx, or the back of the throat, which includes the base of the tongue and tonsils).


"Numerous studies demonstrate that medical professionals often fail to communicate effectively about the vaccine with patients and parents," researchers wrote in the study. "The President's Cancer Panel has indicated that interventions to improve health care professionals' communication about adolescent HPV vaccination are needed."

For the study, researchers recruited 43,132 adolescents at 16 practices in the Denver area between February 2015 and January 2016. They were not necessarily studied in all stages of the three-shot regimen over six months, though, the researchers note.

In the study, there was a 9.5 percentage increase in HPV vaccine series initiation for those receiving the improved materials compared with the control group.

Among the control group, dosage use increased by 1.8 percent over a 12-month period to 38.9 percent, but among those in the intervention group, vaccination increased by 11.3 percent over 12 months to 42.9 percent.

As of 2016 nationwide, 60.4 percent of participants aged 13 to 17 years had started the HPV vaccination series and approximately two-thirds of those starting the series completed it, according to the National Institutes of Health.

"Disseminating this intervention widely among primary care professionals could substantially increase national adolescent HPV vaccination levels, particularly among boys," the researchers conclude in the study.


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