Head and neck surgeons appear knowledgeable about the human papillomavirus (HPV) and show generally positive attitudes and beliefs about HPV education and vaccination, according to a study by Kelly M. Malloy, M.D., of the University of Michigan Health System, Ann Arbor, and colleagues.
A total of 297 members of the American Head and Neck Society (AHNS) completed a survey regarding their knowledge, attitudes, and current practices regarding HPV education and vaccination. Most respondents were male (86.2 percent) fellowship-trained head and neck surgeons (80.4 percent), and most practice in an academic setting (77.1 percent) in the United States (78.1 percent).
According to the survey results, more than 90 percent of respondents discuss risk factors for head and neck cancer and HPV as a specific risk factor with their patients. However, only 49.1 percent discuss the importance of vaccinating preadolescents for HPV, most commonly citing that they do not do so because their patients are adults (38.7 percent). Respondents reported divergent attitudes toward HPV vaccination safety and efficacy. However, respondents were overwhelmingly supportive of possible future ANHS activities to educate clinicians, increase public awareness, educate patients, and advocate for health policy related to HPV.
“This study reveals tremendous opportunity for the AHNS and other organizations to better educate clinicians, patients, and the public regarding HPV-related OSCC [oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma] and the importance of HPV vaccination.” The study concludes, “The results of this survey may serve as an impetus to the AHNS to develop educational materials and to engage the public on this important health issue.”
(JAMA Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. Published online August 29, 2013. doi:10.1001/jamaoto.2013.4452.