Background and Objectives: Despite recommendations supporting human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination, pediatric vaccination rates remain suboptimal in the United States; lack of tools to support provider counseling is one barrier. We sought to evaluate HPV-related counseling materials for readability, suitability, and content, and assess parent perceptions of materials, using a health literacy perspective. Methods: A systematic search was conducted for written materials developed for HPV vaccination counseling by examining state Department of Health Web sites and associated links to local and national organizations. Materials were assessed for the following: 1) readability (Flesch Reading Ease, Flesch-Kincaid, Gunning Fog, Simple Measure of Gobbledygook, Fry), 2) suitability (understandability and actionability) (Suitability Assessment of Materials; Patient Education Materials Assessment Tool for Printable Materials), and 3) coverage of 8 key content areas (recommended by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). Semistructured interviews were conducted with English-speaking parents or caregivers of children 9 to 17 years of age from 3 pediatric clinics (New York, Ohio, Illinois) serving predominantly low-income families to assess perceptions and usefulness of 4 handouts selected for review. Results: Thirty-eight documents were assessed. Mean ± standard deviation (SD) reading grade level was 9.4 ± 2; 10.5% (n = 4) had a reading level of 6th grade or below; 68.4% (n = 26) were considered not suitable. Mean understandability was 41.7% and mean actionability was 20.7%. Only 5.3% (n = 2) addressed all 8 content areas mean ± SD (number of areas = 6.7 ± 1.2). Brochure comprehensiveness and inclusion of a personal story were cited as factors that would be helpful in influencing parents to vaccinate against HPV. Conclusions: Few written materials for HPV vaccination counseling were optimal from a health literacy best practices perspective. Content comprehensiveness was important for informed decision making.
- health communication
- health literacy
- human papillomavirus
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health