Background:

Introduction of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine in 2006 was a game-changing advance in cancer control. Despite the vaccine's potential cancer prevention benefits, uptake remains low. We utilized a randomized design to evaluate a multicomponent intervention to improve HPV vaccine uptake among low-income, ethnic minority adolescents seeking services through a county health department telephone hotline.

Methods:

Hotline callers who were caregivers of never-vaccinated adolescents (11–17 years) were randomized by call-week to intervention or control conditions. The intervention included brief telephone and print education, delivered in multiple languages, and personalized referral to a low-cost/free vaccine provider. Participants completed baseline (n = 238), 3-month (n = 215), and 9-month (n = 204) telephone follow-up surveys.

Results:

HPV vaccine initiation rates increased substantially by 9-month follow-up overall, although no differences were observed between intervention and control groups (45% vs. 42%, respectively, P > 0.05). We also observed significant improvements in perceived HPV risk, barriers to vaccination, and perceived knowledge in both study conditions (P < 0.05).

Conclusions:

A low-intensity county hotline intervention did not produce a greater increase in HPV vaccination rates than routine practice. However, 44% of unvaccinated adolescents in both conditions received at least one dose of the vaccine, which can be viewed as a successful public health outcome. Future studies should evaluate more intensive interventions that address accessing and utilizing services in complex safety net settings.

Impact:

Study results suggest the need for investigators to be aware of the potential priming effects of study participation, which may obscure the effect of low-intensity interventions.

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