Offering HPV vaccine in settings beyond the traditional medical home holds promise for increasing the currently low levels of coverage. As adolescents frequently visit dentists, dental practices may be one such alternative vaccination setting. This study assessed parent attitudes about the roles dental providers could play in HPV prevention, including vaccine provision.
In September 2016, we conducted an online survey using a national sample (n = 1209) of U.S. parents of adolescent children aged 11-17. Adolescents' mean age was 14; 53% were male and 62% were non-Hispanic white. We identified correlates of parents' comfort with dentists as HPV vaccinators using multivariable logistic regression.
Overall, 23% of parents reported that they would feel comfortable with their child receiving HPV vaccine from a dentist. In multivariable analyses, parents had greater odds of being comfortable if they had higher trust in their child's primary care provider (OR = 1.27, 95% CI: 0.96-1.68) and lower odds if their child was female (OR = 0.65, 95% CI: 0.50-0.86). Convenience (20%) and oral health expertise (20%) were the most commonly cited benefits of dentists administering the vaccine. Wanting their child's regular provider to administer and track vaccinations (61% and 58%, respectively), and lack of insurance coverage (30%) were the most commonly cited concerns. Parents expressed somewhat greater comfort with roles dentists might play in promoting HPV vaccination other than vaccine delivery, such as providing education.
Parents in this sample had low comfort with dentists as HPV vaccinators. Findings from this study highlight potential concerns to be addressed before dental practices consider offering HPV vaccination in the future. Further research should assess dentists' perspectives and explore alternative roles for dental providers in HPV prevention efforts.