Introduction: This qualitative study aimed to explore parental attitudes, knowledge and decision-making about HPV vaccination for adolescents in the context of a gender-neutral school-based Australian National Immunisation Program (NIP).
Methods: Semi-structured interviews with parents of adolescents eligible for HPV vaccination were undertaken as part of an evaluation of a cluster-randomised controlled trial of a complex intervention in 40 schools (2013-2015). In this qualitative study, we purposively recruited a nested sample of parents from 11 schools across two Australian jurisdictions. Interviews explored parent knowledge and understanding of the HPV vaccine program; HPV vaccination decision-making; their adolescent's knowledge about HPV vaccination; and their adolescent's understanding about HPV vaccination, sexual awareness and behaviour. Transcripts were analysed using inductive and deductive thematic analysis.
Results: Parents' of 22 adolescents had positive attitudes towards the program; the school-based delivery platform was the key driver shaping acceptance of and decision-making about HPV vaccination. They had difficulty recalling, or did not read, HPV vaccination information sent home. Some adolescents were involved in discussions about vaccination, with parents' responsible for ultimate vaccine decision-making. All parents supported in-school education for adolescents about HPV and HPV vaccination. Parents' knowledge about HPV vaccination was limited to cervical cancer and was largely absent regarding vaccination in males.
Conclusions: Parents' positive attitudes towards the NIP and inclusion of the HPV vaccine is central to their vaccine decision-making and acceptance. More intensive communication strategies including school education opportunities are required to improve parents' knowledge of HPV-related disease and to promote vaccine decision-making with adolescents.
Keywords: Adolescent; Attitudes; Decision-making; HPV; HPV vaccine; Implementation; Knowledge; Parent; School-based vaccination.
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