Researcher finds public support for HPV vaccine wanes when linked to controversy

Nov 03, 2010

The vaccine that protects against the potentially cancer-causing human papillomavirus (HPV) enjoys wide support in the medical and public health communities. Yet state laws to require young girls to be vaccinated as a requirement for middle school attendance have aroused controversy with parents, politicians, and even medical and public health experts disagreeing about whether such laws are appropriate.

News coverage about HPV requirements tends to amplify this controversy, possibly leading to among the public about the value of the HPV vaccine or even about other vaccines.

In a paper published in the November issue of the journal Health Affairs, University of Minnesota School of Public Health researcher Sarah Gollust and colleagues found that attendant controversy resulted in diminished public support for legally mandating the HPV vaccine.

Research Methods

Gollust and colleagues administered an Internet-based survey to a randomly selected sample of participants that was representative of the U.S. population. Participants were assigned to two groups who were then exposed to two different hypothetical news briefs about legislative action related to the HPV vaccine: one that presented the HPV vaccine as enjoying widespread support and the other positioning the vaccine as controversial.

Findings

The study is the first of its kind to examine directly the tie between controversy about a piece of health policy portrayed in the news media and public support for the policy. Based on this study and previous research, the researchers suggest that prolonged exposure to controversy has the potential to erode public support for the policy. "This research raises important questions about how the news media's tendency to report on controversy shapes public opinion about ," says Gollust. Researchers also found that while support for HPV vaccine legislation waned in the shadow of controversy, support for other vaccines remained unchanged, an encouraging finding, according to Gollust.

Some public health experts have worried that publicized controversy over the could lead to public concerns about other childhood vaccines, a particularly important issue because of recent outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases like whooping cough and measles.

Explore further: Are human breast milk microbiome 'neutral'?

More information: The article may be viewed here: content.healthaffairs.org/cgi/… /abstract/29/11/2041

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Study explores attitudes and beliefs about HPV

Mar 01, 2007

The most common sexually transmitted virus in the US is genital human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, with 20 million Americans currently infected and another 6.2 million becoming infected each year. Although HPV causes serious ...

One in four California adolescent girls has had HPV vaccine

Feb 17, 2009

Less than two years after the HPV vaccine was approved as a routine vaccination for girls aged 11 and older, one-quarter of California adolescent girls have started the series of shots that protect against human papillomavirus, ...

Study: HPV vaccine hurts less than expected

Oct 21, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Injections of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine appear to be no more painful than other shots that prevent disease, according to a new study by researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel ...

Recommended for you

Are human breast milk microbiome 'neutral'?

37 minutes ago

Human breast milk is considered the most ideal source of nutrition for infants and it should have played a critical role in the evolution and civilizations of human beings. Unlike our intuitive perception, human milk contains ...

Many nurses unprepared to meet dying patients

2 hours ago

Most nurses in their work care for patients who are dying. A study of more than 200 students has shown that many nurses in training feel unprepared and anxious when faced with the prospect of meeting patients during end-of-life ...

Spinach extract decreases cravings, aids weight loss

2 hours ago

A spinach extract containing green leaf membranes called thylakoids decreases hedonic hunger with up to 95% - and increases weight loss with 43%. This has been shown in a recently published long-term human study at Lund University ...

User comments : 0