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Open Access Open Badges Research article

Are there socioeconomic disparities in women having discussions on human papillomavirus vaccine with health care providers?

Ker Yi Wong and Young Kyung Do*

Author Affiliations

Program in Health Services and Systems Research, Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School Singapore, 8 College Road, 169857, Singapore

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BMC Women's Health 2012, 12:33  doi:10.1186/1472-6874-12-33

Published: 4 October 2012



Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine recommendation by a health care provider (HCP) is an important predictor of vaccine receipt. We examined whether being of a minority race/ethnicity, having lower income and education, and the lack of health insurance and a regular HCP are each associated with a lower likelihood of a discussion on HPV vaccine occurring between a woman and her HCP.


A sample of 1,631 women aged 18 years and older was drawn from the 2007 Health Information National Trends Survey. Given that only a subgroup of women who were aware of the HPV vaccine were asked if they had a discussion with their HCPs, we estimated a probit model correcting for sample selection.


Among those aware of the HPV vaccine, 17.3% of respondents reported having discussions on the vaccine with their HCPs. Compared with Whites, African Americans were less likely to be aware of the HPV vaccine but more likely to have discussions with their HCPs concerning the vaccine. A statistically significant association between lower income and education levels and a lower likelihood of HPV vaccine awareness was observed, but low levels of income and education did not appear to affect the probability of having HPV vaccine discussions with HCPs.


Socioeconomically disadvantaged women did not show a lower propensity to have vaccine discussions with their HCPs, suggesting that HCPs can be a major catalyst in increasing vaccine receipt among the higher risk group. The results of the study suggest a two-pronged approach that seeks to raise vaccine awareness among socioeconomically disadvantaged women at the population level and encourages HCPs to intensify discussions about the HPV vaccine with patients.