Rural African American Parents' Knowledge and Decisions About Human Papillomavirus Vaccination

Understanding the importance of human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination as cancer prevention in adolescents is often overlooked. This study reveals what factors led to decisions about vaccinating or planning to vaccinate a child against HPV.

The study was conducted in three counties in rural Georgia. Parents or caregivers with children ages 9 to 13 attending elementary or middle school in 2010–2011 were included in the sample. A total of 400 African American parents completed the 26-item Parental HPV Survey. The main outcome variable was measured with a “yes” answer to one survey question. The question asked parents and caregivers if they have or plan to vaccinate their child against HPV.

Key Findings:

  • Religious affiliation was correlated to parents’ decisions on vaccination against HPV.
  • Understanding cultural norms such as religious level and spirituality is necessary when developing interventions to increase vaccination rates.

Knowledge about parental perceptions of the vaccine could help vaccination rates increase as well. Increasing parental knowledge of HPV transmission and infection, and the benefits of HPV vaccination is important, especially in rural populations. Future public health interventions and educational programs should consider culture, religious affiliation, and parent education in order to help prevent HPV-related cancers.