HPV and cervical cancer prevention counseling with younger adolescents: Implications for primary care

Andrew L. Sussman, Deborah Helitzer, Margaret Sanders, Brisa Urquieta, Melina Salvador, Khadidiatou Ndiaye

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


PURPOSE: Primary care clinicians will continue to play an important role in cervical cancer prevention, particularly with regard to administration of the newly licensed human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine and continued administration of Papanicolaou tests. Little is known about the factors that influence cervical cancer prevention counseling, particularly in the adolescent encounter. We conducted a qualitative study to better understand the implications for counseling about cervical cancer prevention by primary care clinicians who care for adolescents. METHODS: We conducted in-depth interviews with 37 primary care clinicians in New Mexico to understand the context in which they provide anticipatory guidance about sexual health risks as well as their attitudes about counseling for the forthcoming HPV vaccine. RESULTS: Clinicians identified 4 categories of factors related to their counseling experiences with adolescents about HPV: (1) the need to build rapport with adolescent patients, (2) the presumption that adolescent patients engage in high-risk behaviors, (3) the situational delivery and complexity of HPV counseling, and (4) perceptions of clinician and community receptivity to the HPV vaccine. CONCLUSION: Our findings show that conditions of the preadolescent and young adolescent visit pose a challenge to the successful integration of counseling about cervical cancer prevention in primary care. Counseling strategies that are designed to emphasize a preventive focus while including parents in the discussion at the time of vaccination and that are appropriate to populations with different cultural values and beliefs will help to enhance communication about cervical cancer prevention and the particular role of the HPV vaccine.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)298-304
Number of pages7
JournalAnnals of Family Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Adolescent health services
  • Anticipatory guidance
  • Cancer vaccines
  • Human papillomavirus
  • Papillomavirus vaccines
  • Patient acceptance of health care
  • Primary health care
  • Qualitative research, evaluation studies
  • Sexually transmitted diseases

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Family Practice


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