Parental Decisional Strategies Regarding HPV Vaccination Before Media Debates: A Focus Group Study
Before the introduction of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, decisional strategies and factors that could guide HPV vaccination intentions were explored. The authors conducted 4 focus group discussions with 36 parents of children 8-15 years of age. Three groups consisted primarily of Dutch parents and 1 group of only Turkish parents. Discussions followed a semi-structured question route. Results showed that some parents used an approach of systematically seeking information as a way to prepare a decision, whereas others merely relied on trust in the message source. In general, parents believed that it was important to protect their child against negative outcomes that could result from vaccinating or not, and they felt that it is their responsibility to decide about uptake. Perceived susceptibility, vaccine effectiveness, and possibility of serious side effects were most important in the HPV vaccination decision-making process. In conclusion, parents perceived a lack of information and felt insecure about the vaccine's safety and effectiveness. This may result in ambivalent feelings toward HPV vaccination, which, in turn, may lead to postponing decisions about uptake. To facilitate informed decision making, which requires central processing, personally relevant messages about the knowns and unknowns regarding the effects of HPV vaccination should be provided.