An innovative medical school curriculum to address human papillomavirus vaccine hesitancy

Abigail M. Schnaith, Erica M. Evans, Caleb Vogt, Andrea M. Tinsay, Thomas E. Schmidt, Katelyn M Tessier, Britt K Erickson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

7 Scopus citations


Background: Vaccination rates against Human Papillomavirus (HPV) in the US remain alarmingly low. Physicians can significantly influence a parent's decision to vaccinate their children. However, medical education often lacks training on specific strategies for communicating with vaccine hesitant parents. Methods: We created an innovative curriculum designed to teach medical students how to address HPV vaccine hesitancy. The curriculum consisted of (1) a presentation on the epidemiology, biology, and disease morbidity associated with HPV, (2) a video that teaches specific communication strategies and (3) role-playing simulations. This curriculum was delivered to medical students at two separate sites. Medical students were surveyed before and after completing the educational curriculum. The surveys assessed student comfort talking to HPV vaccine hesitant parents and their likelihood to recommend the HPV vaccine. Results: Pre- and post-intervention surveys were completed by 101 of the 132 participants (77% response rate). After the intervention, student awareness of the benefits of the HPV vaccine increased by a mean of 0.82 points (Likert scale 1–5, p < 0.01) and student comfort talking to vaccine hesitant parents increased by a mean of 1.37 points (p < 0.01). Prior to the intervention, students more strongly recommended the HPV vaccine to females compared to males, but this gender disparity was eliminated after the intervention (p < 0.01). Personal vaccination status was independately associated with a higher likelihood of recommending the HPV vaccine both before and after the intervention. Conclusion: Our innovative curriculum improved medical student comfort level discussing HPV vaccination with hesitant parents and increased the perceived likelihood of recommending HPV vaccination. The intervention is easy to implement, scalable, and requires minimal resources. Educating future providers on this important topic has the potential to improve vaccination rates nationwide and thus should be considered for all medical students.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3830-3835
Number of pages6
Issue number26
StatePublished - Jun 18 2018



  • C.A.S.E. method
  • Curriculum
  • HPV vaccine
  • Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
  • Medical education
  • Vaccine hesitancy

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