Parent perceptions of dental care providers' role in human papillomavirus prevention and vaccine advocacy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background: Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted infection and is responsible for most anogenital and oropharyngeal cancers. Dental care providers can be advocates for vaccine uptake, yet little is known about patients’ perceptions of the role of dental care providers in HPV education and prevention. Methods: Parents of adolescents aged 9 through 17 years were recruited from the Minnesota State Fair to survey their awareness and knowledge of the HPV vaccine. Parents were also surveyed about their attitudes toward and comfort in receiving HPV vaccination recommendations and counseling from oral health care providers. Results: The authors interviewed 208 parents, most of whom felt that dentists were qualified to counsel about HPV (66.4%) and its vaccination (72.6%). A lower proportion felt similarly regarding dental hygienists. Parent age and sex were not correlated with comfort levels, but education levels (P = .021) and child vaccination statuses (P > .001) were. Conclusions: Parents are comfortable having discussions about HPV and the vaccine in the dental setting, especially with dentists. This may represent an additional setting where strong recommendations increase vaccine uptake. Practical Implications: Our findings emphasize an opportunity for the dental care team to improve the patient perspective on the role of dental care providers in HPV prevention. Continuing dental education can increase providers’ knowledge, comfort, and confidence in discussing HPV with parents. Parents perceiving provider comfort and confidence might be more comfortable with HPV conversations. Training in collaborative, patient-focused communication techniques, such as motivational interviewing, can improve both providers’ and patients’ comfort and confidence in HPV counseling from oral health care providers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)560-567
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the American Dental Association
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2020


  • Human papillomavirus
  • patient education
  • preventive dentistry
  • professional role
  • public health/community dentistry

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

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