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.
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.
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).
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.
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.