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Center for Health Promotion and Prevention Research

News Post

CHPPR-Developed HPV Vaccination Educational Program Aims to Increase HPV Vaccination Rates among adolescents aged 9-17

Published: January 16, 2024

A family of two parents and a child in a doctor's office with two doctors, all smiling at camera.

The For Our Children Program/Por Nuestros Hijos Program is a multilevel, bilingual (English/Spanish) evidence-based program demonstrated to increase HPV vaccination in pediatric populations. This multilevel program consists of print, web- and app-based educational tools for parents of adolescents ages 9-17 and clinicians who provide health care services to pediatric populations.

Each year, over 11,500 new cases of cervical cancer are diagnosed in the United States, and about 4,000 women die from cervical cancer. Almost all cervical cancers are associated with infection with the Human Papillomavirus (HPV), which can be prevented via vaccination. Studies show that the HPV vaccine can prevent more than 90% of cancers caused by HPV, including cervical cancer.

The HPV vaccine has been available in the US since 2006. Even so, vaccination rates among age-eligible girls and boys remain suboptimal. Parental hesitancy and lack of provider recommendation are two of the most significant barriers to HPV vaccination. Studies consistently show that a strong recommendation from healthcare providers is the best predictor of vaccination for any vaccine, including the HPV vaccine. Understanding changes in parents’ reasons for the lack of HPV vaccine initiation is critical to improving vaccine uptake. 

“Unfortunately, the HPV vaccine has been associated with misinformation and bad press, causing parental hesitancy and discouraging providers from making a recommendation,” said Ileska Valencia, Project Coordinator. “However, parents trust their healthcare providers, and studies consistently show that provider recommendation is the best predictor of vaccination.

To address these and other vaccination barriers, researchers at the Center for Health Promotion and Prevention Research (CHPPR), developed the For Our Children /Por Nuestros Hijos Program (PNH), an evidence-based, multi-component intervention that provides parents and providers with the tools they need to improve HPV vaccination rates in pediatric populations. PNH was first implemented as a parent education program in clinic networks in Houston and later in community settings in Texas. The results from both studies indicated that the program was feasible for clinic and community implementation as it effectively increased HPV vaccination among participants in both settings.

The parent component of PNH educates parents about HPV and motivates them to vaccinate their children. The program features bilingual resources (English/Spanish), such as a tailored, interactive video (app and web-based) and a printed fotonovela (a brochure similar to a comic book that presents photographs and dialogue boxes). Clinicians and community health workers can use both resources to educate parents about HPV and address parental concerns about the HPV vaccine. Following the success of the PNH parent education component, the team developed HPV Cancer Coach, an app- and web-based support tool for healthcare providers that outlines best practices for recommending the HPV vaccine. 

The HPV Cancer Coach app is designed to assist healthcare providers in approaching and addressing parental concerns and making strong, high-quality, and effective HPV vaccine recommendations. Providers can use the app to review their knowledge about HPV, learn more about parental concerns, practice addressing them, and provide effective HPV vaccine recommendations. On the program’s website, clinics can access planning and staff training materials, vaccination resources, and other tools to help facilitate the implementation of HPV vaccination strategies into their current clinic practices.

Funding for PNH is provided by the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT). Maria E. Fernández, PhD is Principal Investigator for the project.  

It’s time to prevent cervical cancer and other HPV-caused cancers. Let’s restart and reframe the conversation about HPV vaccination. For more information on adopting the For Our Children Program and the HPV Cancer Coach app, contact Ileska Valencia at ileska.m.valenciatorres@uth.tmc.edu.

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