New Clinic-Based Study Shows a Program Created by UTHealth Houston Researchers Can Improve HPV Vaccination Rates Among Youth

A program for clinic systems created by researchers at UTHealth Houston called the Adolescent Vaccination Program (AVP) has proven to be effective at increasing human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination rates among adolescents according to a new study published in Vaccines.

Nearly 1 million people, including teens, become infected with HPV each year, leading to an increased risk of genital warts and cervical, vaginal, and penile cancers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The HPV vaccine, which decreases the risk of infection, is available to adolescents starting at age 9; however, underutilization of the vaccine remains a significant issue.

To address this, researchers implemented the multicomponent AVP in five clinics across San Antonio over four years. The program comprised six evidence-based strategies aimed at the clinic organization, providers, and parents and was designed to synergistically facilitate an increase in HPV vaccination initiation and completion.

Researchers reviewed data from nearly 6,500 adolescent patients between the ages of 11 and 17 and found that the AVP significantly increased the initiation of the HPV vaccine from 64.7% to 80.2%. Additionally, patients who completed the full vaccine series increased from 43.2% to 60.2%.

Findings from the interrupted time series analyses (ITSA) indicated that the AVP not only improved HPV vaccination initiation and completion rates within the clinic settings but also outperformed the general adolescent population during the same period. The ITSA showed a marked improvement in vaccination rates post-intervention compared to external comparison data from the National Immunization Survey-Teen. These findings highlight the AVP’s effectiveness in improving HPV vaccination rates and suggest that similar programs could be beneficial in other clinic systems.

“These results are incredibly encouraging,” said Lara Savas, PhD, lead researcher on the study and associate professor in the Department of Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences at UTHealth Houston School of Public Health. “The AVP not only improved vaccination rates across diverse populations but also demonstrated resilience during the COVID-19 pandemic. The successful implementation of the AVP in a new clinic system also underscores its feasibility and scalability, offering hope for significant strides in HPV prevention nationwide.”

Research is underway in Houston to design implementation support strategies to promote scale-up and sustainment of the evidence-based AVP. These strategies will guide clinic leaders and staff in safety-net clinic systems through the implementation planning, delivery, and sustainment of the AVP.

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