An App to Help Parents Make a Decision about the HPV Vaccine

Although the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a vaccine that protects against the human papillomavirus (HPV) – a sexually transmitted virus that can cause several cancer types, including cervical cancer, current vaccination rates for the 3-dose series among US adolescents are low (39.7% for girls, 21.6% for boys).

In a recent paper our group published in the journal Patient Education and Counseling, we describe a new mobile app-based intervention we developed to address the problem of low HPV vaccination rates. The app is based on self-persuasion, the process of generating one’s own arguments for engaging in a specific behavior. Self-persuasion may be a particularly useful strategy for increasing adolescent HPV vaccination rates because many parents of adolescents are undecided or hesitant about the vaccine, and using parents’ own arguments for the vaccine may help them decide.

In this paper, we report on the development of the mobile app to promote parental self-persuasion for adolescent HPV vaccination and the evaluation of whether the app is easy and practical for parents to use. As part of the research study, parents viewed an informational video about HPV and the vaccine, answered a number of questions about different topics related to the vaccine, and then verbalized in their own words why it is important for their adolescent to get the vaccine.

We found that parents rated the app as easy to use and helpful for thinking about the HPV vaccine. In addition, although most of the parents were undecided about the vaccine when they began the study, 82% of parents reported deciding to get their adolescent vaccinated after using the app.

The self-persuasion app we developed is an excellent example of translating an established and effective behavior change approach – self-persuasion – into an innovative and effective way to impact population health. By developing the intervention within a mobile app, there is strong potential to make the intervention widely available to parents of adolescents who are making decisions about the HPV vaccine.

Reference. Baldwin, A.S., Denman, D.C., Sala, M., Marks, E.G., Shay, L.A., Fuller, S., Persaud, D., Lee, S.C., Skinner, C.S., Wiebe, D.J., & Tiro, J.T. (2017). Translating self-persuasion into an HPV vaccine promotion intervention for safety-net patients. Patient Education and Counseling, 100, 736-741.

About Austin Baldwin

AA-Dedman(Psychology)
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