Pediatricians are More Supportive of the Human Papillomavirus Vaccine than the General Public

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Abstract

Objective:

The purpose of this study was to determine pediatricians' attitudes about the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine and to compare their attitudes with those expressed by the general public.

Methods:

Eight-hundred and fifty pediatricians from the American Academy of Pediatrics were surveyed, including general pediatricians (n = 450), and members of the sections of adolescent medicine (n = 200) and infectious diseases (n = 200). Pediatricians were asked to answer four items that had been included on a Wall Street Journal (WSJ) poll of the general public shortly after the HPV vaccine was approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

Results:

Of 752 eligible pediatricians, 373 (50%) responded. Compared to the general public, pediatricians were less likely to agree that routine Papanicolaou smears are a better strategy for preventing cervical cancer than HPV vaccination (12% vs 45%, P < 0.001), that abstinence programs are a better strategy for preventing the spread of HPV (17% vs 44%, P < 0.001), and that HPV vaccination may encourage sexual activity (4% vs 27%, P < 0.001). Pediatricians were more likely to support HPV vaccination without parental permission (77% vs 47%, P < 0.001). There were no differences between pediatricians based on gender. General pediatricians were more likely than pediatricians affiliated with the sections of infectious diseases and adolescent medicine to endorse abstinence programs over HPV vaccination (22% vs 16% and 8%, respectively, P = 0.01).

Conclusion:

Pediatricians are much more supportive of HPV vaccination than the general public. Pediatricians should be aware of these differences when counseling patients and their families.

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