Relationship Between Child Gender and Parental Awareness of the HPV Vaccine

Fernando, Shane PhD MS
Ahmed, Syed
Hurt, Emily
Whiting, Whitney
Roane, Brandy PhD
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Purpose: While human papillomavirus (HPV) affects both boys and girls, the vaccination rate between the two genders differs. Literacy regarding the HPV vaccine plays a role in vaccination status and parental literacy may influence the variable nature of vaccination rates between boys and girls. This study was designed to assess the role of gender bias in parental vaccine literacy. We believe that parents with daughters will have increased knowledge regarding the HPV vaccine compared to parents with sons. Methods: Data were collected from 53 participants at the UNTHSC Patient Care Center Pediatric Department. Parents were asked to complete a survey regarding the HPV vaccine and were educated about the vaccine after completing the survey. A flyer with information about the vaccine was given to the participants who were called approximately 10 days after completing the survey to gauge retention of information. Data was assessed using a chi-squared analysis for possible connections between child gender and the accuracy of survey answers. Results: 81% of parents of female children (POFC) answered that they understood how HPV was spread compared to 72% of parents of male children (POMC). 44% of POMC and 39% of POFC were unsure about whether condoms fully protect against HPV. Only 52% of POMC correctly answered that there is an HPV vaccine for boys compared to 74% of POFC. 35% of POMC reported having a healthcare provider speak to them about the HPV vaccine compared to 44% of POFC. Conclusions: Both sets of parents displayed variable understanding regarding different aspects of HPV and the HPV vaccine. POMC displayed a greater lack of understanding about how HPV is spread as well as the incorrect belief that HPV is spread only through sexual contact. POMC were also less likely to be aware of a male HPV vaccine. This variance in knowledge may indicate that there is a reduced likelihood that POMC will learn about vaccines from healthcare providers compared to POFC. Misbelief among POMC as well as a lack of education from providers could play a role in reduced vaccination rates among boys. Future studies should investigate the need for unique training for providers regarding speaking with POMC about the HPV vaccine.