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Many Doctors Inconsistent With HPV Vaccine Recommendations

Sizeable minority does not strongly endorse vaccination nor deliver timely recommendations

THURSDAY, Oct. 22, 2015 (HealthDay News) — Many physicians are inconsistent or behind schedule in their recommendations for human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination, according to a study published online Oct. 22 in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.

Melissa B. Gilkey, Ph.D., from Harvard Medical School and the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute in Boston, and colleagues evaluated HPV vaccination communication practices among primary care physicians. A total of 776 pediatricians and family physicians completed a national online survey. The quality of their HPV vaccine recommendations were assessed on strength of endorsement, timeliness, consistency, and urgency.

The researchers found that 27 percent of physicians reported that they did not strongly endorse HPV vaccination, or deliver timely recommendations for boys or girls (26 and 39 percent, respectively). Fifty-nine percent of physicians used a risk-based approach for recommending HPV vaccination; 51 percent usually recommended same-day vaccination. Physicians who were uncomfortable talking about HPV vaccine or who believed parents did not value it had lower overall recommendation quality. Higher quality was seen among physicians who initiated discussions by saying that the child was due for HPV vaccine rather than providing information or eliciting questions.

“These findings can inform the many state and national initiatives that aim to improve communication about HPV vaccine so as to address the persistent underuse of a powerful tool for cancer prevention,” the authors write.

Two authors disclosed financial ties to pharmaceutical companies, including Pfizer, which funded the study with an unrestricted educational grant.

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