Theoretical Background and research questions/hypothesis: Many parents are unaware of the recommendations for routine vaccination of adolescents. Parent awareness and support of these recommendations are essential in improving and maintaining vaccine uptake. The objective of this analysis was to describe the vaccine knowledge and attitudes of U.S. parents of adolescents in 2012.
Methods: We analyzed responses from parents of at least one adolescent 11 through 17 years of age who took part in the 2012 SummerStyles online survey, a nationally representative survey of US adults conducted annually by Porter Novelli via the Knowledge Networks online survey panel. Survey questions were closed-ended and consisted of yes/no, multiple choice, and Likert-type scale questions. Questions assessed respondents' questions, concerns, knowledge, and attitudes related to adolescent vaccines. We calculated weighted percentages for each of the variables of interest.
Results: The overall response rate for SummerStyles 2012 was 65.1% (4,170/6,402); 974 parents of adolescents were included in our analysis. The majority of respondents were non-Hispanic white (62.5%), female (56.3%), and had one 11-17 year old adolescent in the household (66.0%). Most (85.8%) reported that their youngest adoelscent had visited a doctor since their 11th birthday. Most respondents strongly/somewhat agreed that getting their child immunized is the right thing to do (72.4%) and that adolescent vaccination is important to preventing the spread of disease within the community (71.9%). Respondents reported a variety of questions about adolescent vaccines that they would like to discuss with their child's doctor. The most common of these questions were regarding vaccine safety, side effects, necessity, or effectiveness. Of note, 31.6% of parents wondered if the physician would give these vaccines to thier own child. Also of note, only 14.7% of parents wondered if they could wait until their child was older before receiving adolescent vaccines. Nearly 30% of respondents reported that they did not have any questions about adolescent vaccines. Similarly, 42.1% of respondents reported that they did not have any concerns about adolescent vaccines. The most common concerns were related to side effects--particularly the perception that the long-term side effects of these vaccines are unknown. Few respondents in the survey reported concerns about the number (9.8%) or potential pain caused by (5.2%) adolescent vaccines. Self-reported adoelscent vaccine knowledge and information seeking--including receiving vaccine recommendations directly from a healthcare professional--were generally low and varied by vaccine.
Conclusions: Most parents of adolescents in this survey reported positive attitudes toward adolescent vaccines; however self-reported knowledge and information-seeking about these vaccines were both low. Parents reported a number of questions and concerns about adolescent vaccines that they would like to discuss with their adolescent's doctor.
Implications for research and/or practice: Healthcare and public health professionals should work with parents of adolescents to raise awareness of adolescent vaccines and should proactively address parents' questions and concerns. Educational materials for parents and healthcare professionals can help foster these discussions.