Vaccination against the types of human papillomavirus (HPV) that cause about 70% of cervical cancers is approved for use in girls and women between 9 and 26 years of age and recommended routinely in 11–12-year-old girls. This article reports on the systematic theory-based formative research conducted to develop HPV vaccine messages for a campaign targeting racially diverse mothers of nonvaccinated 11–12-year-old girls in rural Southeastern United States. A consortium of 13 county health departments concerned about high rates of cervical cancer in their region relative to state and national averages initiated the campaign. The research examined behavioral determinants for vaccination decisions as well as mothers’ reactions to message frames and emotional appeals. On the basis of focus groups and intercept interviews (n = 79), the authors demonstrated how preproduction message research and production message testing were used to develop messages that would motivate mothers of preteen girls. Core emotional truths that emerged were a mother's instinct to protect her daughter from harm and to embrace aspirations for her daughter's future. Mothers also reacted more positively to text about preventing cervical cancer than about preventing HPV, a sexually transmitted disease. Mothers preferred message concepts with photos of minorities and Caucasian mothers and daughters.
Asking Mom: Formative research for an HPV vaccine campaign targeting mothers of adolescent girls