Hispanic mothers' and high school girls' perceptions of cervical cancer, human papilloma virus, and the human papilloma virus vaccine

J Adolesc Health. 2013 May;52(5 Suppl):S69-75. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2012.09.020.


Purpose: Cervical cancer incidence and mortality are higher for Hispanic women than for women in other population groups. However, the incidence could be reduced if teenaged Hispanic girls received the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine before they become sexually active. Unfortunately, few Hispanic girls receive this vaccine, which prevents cervical cancer. This study assessed Hispanic mothers' and girls' perceptions about cervical cancer, HPV, and the HPV vaccine. Results show factors that affect whether Hispanic high school girls receive the vaccine.

Methods: Twenty-four Hispanic mothers and 28 Hispanic girls from an urban school district in southeast Texas each participated in one of eight focus groups. Bilingual moderators facilitated the mothers' groups in English and Spanish and the girls' groups in English. We analyzed transcripts of the discussions and identified themes using the grounded theory approach.

Results: Our analysis found several themes that affect whether Hispanic girls get the HPV vaccine: gaps in knowledge; fears and concerns about the vaccine; sociocultural communication practices; and decision-making about HPV vaccination. Both mothers and girls had limited knowledge about cervical cancer, HPV, and the vaccine. Some girls who received the vaccine said they wished their mothers had involved them in making the decision.

Conclusions: Findings may help in developing school or community-based educational programs for Hispanic families. Such programs should provide information on the HPV vaccine and the link between HPV and cervical cancer, and they should assist mothers and girls in communicating to make informed decisions about the vaccine.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cultural Characteristics
  • Decision Making
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Hispanic Americans / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Mothers / psychology*
  • Papillomavirus Infections / psychology*
  • Papillomavirus Vaccines / administration & dosage*
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care
  • Students / psychology*
  • Texas
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / virology*


  • Papillomavirus Vaccines