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The HPV vaccination is recommended for children ages 11 or 12 and prevents numerous cancers in adulthood, but rates of vaccination are low. New research suggests that doctors should be more assertive when recommending the vaccine. NPR's Patti Neighmond reports.
PATTI NEIGHMOND, BYLINE: The HPV vaccine fights a virus - the human papilloma virus - that's sexually transmitted. Earlier research shows that's what makes doctors uncomfortable talking to parents of young adolescents. Behavior scientist Noel Brewer with the University of North Carolina.
NOEL BREWER: Every health care provider has a story they can tell about a difficult conversation with a parent. They remember these and these difficult conversations become larger than life.
NEIGHMOND: So Brewer wanted to know how doctors could talk more effectively with parents and get more kids vaccinated. He studied two approaches. One - open ended, encouraging discussion and questions. The other - a short, simple statement.
BREWER: Now that Michael is 12, there are three vaccines we give to kids his age. Today he'll get meningitis, HPV and Tdap vaccines.
NEIGHMOND: Tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis - Brewer found these simple direct statements meant more kids got the vaccine. The open-ended discussion didn't make any difference. The message for doctors...
BREWER: Tell parents about HPV vaccine just like they would about any other vaccine.
NEIGHMOND: And maybe more children will be protected from this dangerous cancer-causing virus. Patti Neighmond, NPR News.
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