Awareness, perceptions, and choices of physicians pertaining to human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination in India
A formative research study
Kataria, I., Siddiqui, M., Treiman, K., Foley, S., Anand, M., Biswas, S., Shastri, D., Bhatla, N., Radhakrishnan, D., Mamidi, P., & Sankaranarayanan, R. (2022). Awareness, perceptions, and choices of physicians pertaining to human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination in India: A formative research study. Vaccine: X, 12, 100228. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jvacx.2022.100228
Introduction: India accounts for one-fifth of the global burden of cervical cancer cases and mortality. A safe and effective vaccine to prevent human papillomavirus (HPV) infections, the primary cause of cervical malignancies, is available in India but multiple barriers lead to its low uptake in the country. Physicians are a key stakeholder and communicator in the Indian health system and have the potential to increase HPV vaccine uptake.
Objective: We undertook formative research to understand awareness, perceptions and choices of physicians when recommending the HPV vaccine to parents of adolescent girls.
Methods: We conducted in-depth interviews with 32 physicians in two districts of West Bengal. Data collection was carried out between July and August 2019. The data was transcribed, coded, and analyzed using NVivo software using the thematic analysis technique.
Results: Our findings suggest that while physicians are generally aware about the burden of cervical cancer and its prevention by HPV vaccination, they face several barriers to recommending the HPV vaccine routinely and strongly. These include the lack of national-level guidance on the age eligibility and dosage, lack of practice-level opportunities such as well or non-sick visits and other routine adolescent vaccines, practice-level barriers like out-of-pocket cost and vaccine availability, and perceived parental hesitancy arising from reluctance to discuss cervical cancer, its prevention, and HPV vaccination.
Conclusions: Physicians in our study exhibited hesitancy when recommending the HPV vaccine. They also faced logistical barriers. It is important that the barriers pertaining to when and how physicians recommend the vaccine be tackled through further education, policy change, and development and implementation of interventions that are evidenced-based.