Prevention of Human Papillomavirus in a school-based setting

Abstract: The overall aim of this thesis was to examine beliefs about human papillomavirus (HPV) prevention, especially vaccination, among parents, immigrant women, adolescents and school nurses, and to promote primary prevention among adolescents.The methods used in the thesis were focus group interviews, individual interviews, a web-based questionnaire, and finally, a randomised controlled intervention study.The immigrant women were largely in favour of HPV prevention, although barriers, such as logistic difficulties, and cultural or gender norms were found. Parents’ decision concerning vaccination of their daughters depended on several factors. Regardless of their final choice, they made the decision they believed was in the best interest of their daughter. The benefits outweighed the risks for parents choosing to vaccinate while parents declining made the opposite judgement. The majority of the school nurses reported that the governmental financial support given because of the vaccination programme had not been used for the intended purpose. Three out of four nurses had been contacted by parents who raised questions regarding the vaccine; most were related to side effects. The educational intervention had favourable effects on the adolescents’ beliefs regarding HPV prevention, especially among those with an immigrant background. Furthermore, the intention to use condom as well as actual vaccination rates among girls was slightly increased by the intervention.Trust in the governmental recommendations and the amounts of information given are important factors in the complex decision about HPV vaccination. Attention given to specific needs and cultural norms, as well as the possibility to discuss HPV vaccination with the school nurse and provision of extra vaccination opportunities at a later time are all strategies that might facilitate participation in the school-based HPV vaccination programme. School nurses need sufficient resources, knowledge and time to meet parents’ questions and concerns. The vaccinations are time-consuming and the governmental financial support needs to be used as intended, for managing the vaccination programme. A school-based intervention can have favourable effects on the beliefs and actual actions of young people and may possibly thus, in the long term, decrease the risk for HPV-related cancer.