Most college-age women choose to get vaccinated for HPV only after having talked to their mothers about sex and when their mothers approve of the shot, according to a study conducted by researchers from Dartmouth Medical School.

For the study, 972 female undergraduates at a large Midwestern university were surveyed to assess their sexual-risk behavior, knowledge of HPV, perceptions of HPV risk, communication from their mother about sex-related topics, and their current vaccination status. Among the participants, 65% of the students reported being sexually active and 49% reported having received at least the first of the three-shot HPV vaccine series.

The results of the survey revealed that the young women who were unvaccinated were more likely to be interested in future vaccination if they believed their mothers would approve. Secondly, the student’s perceptions of their risk of contracting HPV also contributed to their interest in getting vaccinated. Lastly, young women whose mothers had discussed values in relation to sex were, as a group, less interested in being vaccinated.

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“Mother-daughter communication and approval of vaccination emerged as important predictors of young women’s HPV-vaccination behavior and intentions, even after the women were old enough to not require parental approval,” the authors wrote.

The findings were published in Pediatrics (2010 Apr 12[Epub ahead of print]).