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The human papillomavirus immunisation programme and sexual behaviour

Forster, A.S.; (2011) The human papillomavirus immunisation programme and sexual behaviour. Doctoral thesis, UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

The introduction of human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination has caused some parents to report concern that their daughters may change their sexual behaviour following vaccination. This concern consistently relates to vaccination acceptance, but had not been investigated in detail. Accordingly, five studies addressed the thesis objective: to explore parents’ concern about adolescent sexual behaviour following HPV vaccination in the context of the UK immunisation programme and to examine whether such concerns were justifiable. The first study examined discussions of risky sexual behaviour and HPV vaccination in news articles published over five years in British newspapers. The second study investigated mothers’ concern about their daughters engaging in risky sexual behaviour after vaccination by questioning a sample of mothers. The third study explored whether adolescents would interpret vaccination consent from parents as carte blanche approval for sexual activity, by surveying 162 girls. The fourth study prospectively investigated the impact of HPV vaccination and a fifth study compared differences between vaccinated girls and girls who had not been offered the vaccine. Concern about the impact of HPV vaccination on sexual behaviour was raised and countered in the media. A minority of mothers were apprehensive about girls’ sexual behaviour following vaccination, however these concerns did not relate to vaccine acceptance. Before the vaccination programme was introduced, some adolescents would infer implicit consent to sexual activity if their parents were to consent to vaccination but most would also take positive messages. Once the HPV immunisation programme was underway, girls’ sexual behaviour did not become more negative following vaccination, despite perceptions of risk lowering. Parents’ concerns may have resulted in reluctance to discuss sex with their daughters in the context of HPV vaccination so that implicit messages of approval for sexual activity are not conveyed. Risk perceptions were pertinent in HPV vaccination acceptability and when exploring behaviour change. These findings may help reduce resistance to HPV vaccination. Implications for theory and practice are discussed.

Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Title:The human papillomavirus immunisation programme and sexual behaviour
Open access status:An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language:English
UCL classification:UCL > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Epidemiology and Health Care > Epidemiology and Public Health

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