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CHAPEL HILL, NC –  The human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine has been available for a decade, but many adolescents do not receive the vaccine, putting them at risk for several cancers. A new project at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill will develop a step-by-step strategy to ease concerns from adolescents and their parents and recommend vaccination to help prevent cancer in future generations.

The project will be led by Noel Brewer, PhD, professor of health behavior at the Gillings School of Global Public Health. He is a member of UNC’s Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center and a chair on the National HPV Vaccination Roundtable. The research funding is from the Prevention Research Center Program at Center for Disease Control and Prevention to the UNC Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention.

This innovative multi-level study will build on communication theory, clinical experience, and several years of research by Brewer’s team to identify effective messages and to refine a step-by-step strategy for effectively recommending HPV vaccination. The research team will enhance one promising strategy, the EASE approach, which helps providers address parental concerns and effectively recommend vaccination.

“Most parents want to follow their providers’ advice about HPV vaccination,” said Brewer. “But when concerns come up, research doesn’t yet tell us what the best way to address them. We will develop messages that parents and providers both agree are effective.”

Although the EASE approach is promising, it lacks several key features: data about its impact and effectiveness, specific messages to address parents’ HPV concerns, and emphasis on high quality provider information. The research team plans to amend these shortcomings in the EASE approach in order to achieve the main goal of providing a therapeutic connection between providers and parents, which will ideally raise the frequency of vaccinations for a generation largely at risk.

Brewer added one of the most effective ways to start a conversation about adolescent vaccines is for the provider to inform parents that the child is due for meningitis, HPV and Tdap vaccines.  The research will help providers take the next step when parents have questions.

“Increasing HPV vaccination may prevent as many as 50,000 new cases of cancers,” said Brewer.  “Our research will help the nation meet the Healthy People 2020 goal of 80% of adolescents ages 13-15 having received the full course of HPV vaccination.”

The study is based at the UNC Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention in Chapel Hill and funded by the Prevention Research Center Program (PRC) at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. HPDP has been a Prevention Research Center for the entire 30-year history of the program. The HPV project is one of the PRC’s Special Interest Projects, which focus on priority public health issues using additional funding for prevention research.

Nathan Klima

Media Contact: Sonya Sutton,; 919-966-4118

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