Date of Completion

Spring 5-10-2009

Thesis Advisor(s)

Thomas Blank

Honors Major

Human Development and Family Studies

Disciplines

Community Health and Preventive Medicine | Other Social and Behavioral Sciences | Public Health Education and Promotion

Abstract

Gardasil® – the vaccine was first thought to be a medical breakthrough in the fight against cancer, but it quickly became plagued with controversy. Despite wide media coverage, little attention has been paid to today’s health care professionals who are ultimately responsible for prescribing the vaccine, and who may be the most knowledgeable about it. The present study seeks to expand on previous literature by investigating health care providers’ current beliefs and practices with the human papillomavirus (HPV) immunization. It is essential that more recent research be performed in order to encompass current views of the vaccine, post FDA-approval.

Data was collected through open-ended interviews with nine health care providers, including MDs and APRNs, and family practice, obstetrics-gynecology, and pediatrics. The interview guide included major topics such as demographics, personal practices and opinions, perceptions of patients and guardians, and opinions on important controversial issues. Major themes and ideas were then found among their responses through qualitative analysis.

Results from the data show that providers’ attitudes and behaviors are relatively uniform. Every provider currently administers and strongly supports the vaccine. Although many expressed that beginning immunization at age nine seemed young, none opposed administering it at that age. It was completely dependent upon the patients’ sexual history and the overall demographics of their patient population. Some providers even expressed a desire to vaccinate outside of the FDA recommendations, to include boys and older females. Evidence-based research and experience with treating cervical cancer were cited as the main reasons for supporting the vaccine. When asked about the controversial topics, no providers felt that motives of pharmaceutical profit were relevant, and none believed that the vaccine would promote sexual activity. Mandates were the only topic to receive varying opinions.