Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Dr. Qualls-Hampton: There are currently two vaccines approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)—Gardasil for males and Gardasil and Cervix for females – that protect against the human papilloma virus (HPV). These vaccines are recommended by the ACIP for females ages 9 to 26 years and males ages 9 to 21 years. Both vaccines protect males and females against some of the most common types of HPV. HPV vaccines are administered in three doses over six months and are considered safe and effective. However, the promise of these vaccines is going unfulfilled as initiation and completion rates for the three doses are suboptimal among females and males.
Nationally, although HPV vaccination initiation coverage is increasing, overall vaccine completion rates are at suboptimal levels and below the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Healthy People 2020 initiative target of 80%. Thus, many states are turning to legislative interventions in efforts to increase initiation and completion rates. This study examines HPV vaccination legislative initiatives and their impact, specifically in estimating state legislation’s effects on HPV vaccine initiation, completion and patient care provider recommendations by gender.
Our findings demonstrate that state legislation does influence HPV initiation and completion rates of adolescents. Moreover, this influence differs by gender. Conversely, patient care provider vaccine recommendations to parents does not significantly differ by state legislation however the relationship does vary by gender. Our study confirms and elucidates what other research has suggested: that parent HPV vaccination decisions are multifactorial, go beyond HPV legislation. Finally, there are physician factors (strong HPV vaccine recommendation) and parent-specific factors (e.g., social and cultural) that weigh heavily in HPV vaccine decisions for both males and female.
We confident these findings would interest both researchers and the general public, especially policy makers and clinical health professionals
Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?
Dr. Qualls-Hampton: Clinicians must understand the purpose of the HPV vaccine – cancer prevention – and educate their patients and parents.
Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?
Dr. Qualls-Hampton: My team and I are working on the next study, which will involve assessing HPV vaccine knowledge and perception of physicians.
More HPV legislation may not result in greater HPV vaccine uptake