Purpose: The objective of this study was to compare the reasons why mothers do or do not have their adolescent daughters vaccinated against HPV.
Methods: Mothers of vaccinated and unvaccinated 11- to 17-year-old girls seen during preventive care visits in outpatient family medicine or pediatric clinics underwent an audiotaped structured telephone interview that used open-ended questions to assess the reasons underlying maternal decisions about HPV vaccination. Qualitative methods categorized maternal responses into themes.
Results: Interviews of 52 mothers (19 declining vaccination, 33 accepting) identified several distinct factors underlying their decisions about HPV vaccination. Lack of knowledge about HPV, age-related concerns, and low perceived risk of infection were commonly cited reasons for declining vaccination. Desire to prevent illness, physician recommendation, and a high perceived risk of infection were commonly identified motivating factors. Both groups of mothers had significant concerns about vaccine safety. Locus of control (e.g., mother or daughter) of health-related decisions arose as a novel factor influencing this decision that had not been previously described in the context of HPV vaccination.
Conclusions: Addressing safety concerns, educating parents about the age-specific risk of HPV infection, and promoting strong physician recommendation for vaccination may be the most useful targets for future interventions to increase HPV vaccine utilization.