Skip Navigation LinksWhat-is-the-Most-Effective-Way-to-Address-Parents-Who-Are-Hesitant-About-the-HPV-Vaccine

aaa print

What is the Most Effective Way to Address Parents Who Are Hesitant About the HPV Vaccine


Hesitant parents surveyed on different types of messaging on the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine series were most interested in information on cancer prevention, as well as its safety and side effects in children, according to a study published in the February 2019 issue of Pediatrics. The study, “Questions and Concerns About HPV Vaccine: A Communication Experiment,” (published online Jan. 22) sought to identify the most effective ways for physicians to address parent hesitancy about the vaccine, by conducting a national online video-messaging experiment. Researchers surveyed 1,196 parents of at least one child age 9-17 who either had not initiated the HPV vaccine series or had received only the first dose. The experiment evaluated 28 messages pertaining to seven common topics about HPV vaccination, four of which related to lack of knowledge (such as what diseases are prevented by the vaccine) and three related to concerns (such as safety and side effects). Researchers found that messages that referred to cancer prevention worked well among both parents of unvaccinated and vaccinated children. They also found that health care providers may need to prepare to engage in longer discussions about HPV vaccine when parents express concerns. The study provides examples of research-tested brief messages that providers could use as a starting point when addressing hesitant parents’ questions or concerns about the HPV vaccine.


The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 67,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. For more information, visit and follow us on Twitter @AmerAcadPeds