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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

School nurses' experiences of delivering the UK HPV vaccination programme in its first year

Shona Hilton1*, Kate Hunt1, Helen Bedford2 and Mark Petticrew3

Author Affiliations

1 MRC CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit, Glasgow, UK

2 Centre for Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Institute of Child Health, London, UK

3 London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, WC1E 7HT, UK

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BMC Infectious Diseases 2011, 11:226  doi:10.1186/1471-2334-11-226

Published: 24 August 2011

Abstract

Background

In the United Kingdom (UK) in September 2008, school nurses began delivering the HPV immunisation programme for girls aged 12 and 13 years old. This study offers insights from school nurses' perspectives and experiences of delivering this new vaccination programme.

Methods

Thirty in-depth telephone interviews were conducted with school nurses working across the UK between September 2008 and May 2009. This time period covers the first year of the HPV vaccination programme in schools. School nurses were recruited via GP practices, the internet and posters targeted at school nurse practitioners.

Results

All the school nurses spoke of readying themselves for a deluge of phone calls from concerned parents, but found that in fact few parents telephoned to ask for more information or express their concerns about the HPV vaccine. Several school nurses mentioned a lack of planning by policy makers and stated that at its introduction they felt ill prepared. The impact on school nurses' workload was spoken about at length by all the school nurses. They believed that the programme had vastly increased their workload leading them to cut back on their core activities and the time they could dedicate to offering support to vulnerable pupils.

Conclusion

Overall the first year of the implementation of the HPV vaccination programme in the UK has exceeded school nurses' expectations and some of its success may be attributed to the school nurses' commitment to the programme. It is also the case that other factors, including positive newsprint media reporting that accompanied the introduction of the HPV vaccination programme may have played a role. Nevertheless, school nurses also believed that the programme had vastly increased their workload leading them to cut back on their core activities and as such they could no longer dedicate time to offer support to vulnerable pupils. This unintentional aspect of the programme may be worthy of further exploration.

Keywords:
HPV vaccination; cervical; cancer; school nurses