HPV vaccination: Perception and practice among French general practitioners

Volume 29, Issue 32 pp. 5087-5330 (18 July 2011)

Regular Papers
Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination: Perception and practice among French general practitioners in the year since licensing
Pages 5322-5328
D. Lutringer-Magnin, J. Kalecinski, G. Barone, Y. Leocmach, V. Regnier, A.C. Jacquard, B. Soubeyrand, P. Vanhems, F. Chauvin, C. Lasset

Acceptance of the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine by targeted populations will depend to a large extent on its acceptability among physicians. We examined the perceptions, attitudes and practices of general practitioners (GPs) in relation to HPV vaccination.

From November 2007 to April 2008, a cross-sectional survey was carried out among a representative 5% sample of GPs in the large Rhône-Alpes region of France. Both quantitative (self-administered questionnaire) and qualitative (interview) approaches were used.

During the month preceding the survey, 75.6% of the 279 GPs who responded had given at least one HPV vaccination and 47.6% had given a vaccination at the routine target age of 14 years. Overall, 80.8% of GPs reported a favourable opinion about HPV vaccination, 17.4% were uncertain and 1.8% were opposed. The main justification for a favourable opinion related to the public health benefits of the HPV vaccination (cited by 60% of those favouring vaccination). The main justification for an “opposed or uncertain” opinion was the too recent introduction of the vaccine (cited by 43.4%). The major difficulties in providing HPV vaccination were patients’ concerns about potential side effects (cited by 37% of the respondents) and the target age of 14 years (28.9%).   Interviews suggested that the concern about age may relate to the need, as perceived by GPs, to discuss sexually transmitted infections with adolescent patients. A favourable opinion about HPV vaccination was associated with seeing more female patients per week, younger age, and GPs’ intention to recommend hepatitis B vaccination.

This representative survey of GPs in a major region of France finds a favourable opinion about the HPV vaccine and widespread use of it, despite some concerns that the recent introduction of the vaccine means that we do not yet fully understand the potential for side effects and about the recommended target age of recipients.