Self-persuasion is more effective than external persuasion for motivating low-income parents to vaccinate their children against human papillomavirus (HPV). The study, published in Patient Education and Counseling, was funded by a grant from the National Cancer Institute to develop educational software for low-income parents who may struggle to read and write and who may only speak Spanish. It builds upon previous findings that guilt, social pressure or acting solely upon a doctor’s recommendation do not motivate parents to vaccinate.1
The study consisted of mostly moms and Hispanic parents with a high school–level education or less who were taking their children to a safety-net pediatric clinic. The researchers developed custom-designed software for an iPad tablet that guided parents in English or Spanish using audio prompts to consider why HPV vaccination is important. Next the parents explained in their own words why HPV vaccination would be beneficial. At the conclusion of the study, 27 of 33 (81%) parents with unvaccinated adolescents stated they would vaccinate their child.
HPV infects 1 in 4 people in the United States and can cause cervical, vaginal, and vulvar cancers in females; penile cancer in males; and anal cancer, back of the throat cancer, and genital warts in both genders, according to the CDC. Depending on age, HPV vaccination involves a series of 2 to 3 injections. Currently, approximately 60% of adolescent girls and 40% of adolescent boys receive the first dose, with approximately 20% of both groups failing to return for the second dose.
“This approach is based on the premise that completing the vaccination series is less likely unless parents internalize the beliefs for themselves,” explained Austin S. Baldwin, PhD, principal investigator on the study. “As in ‘I see the value, I see the importance, and because I want to help my child.'”
1. Baldwin AS, Denman DC, Sala M, et al. Translating self-persuasion into an adolescent HPV vaccine promotion intervention for parents attending safety-net clinics. Patient Educ Couns. 2016 Nov 20. doi: 10.1016/j.pec.2016.11.014 [Epub ahead of print]