Introduction Cervical Cancer (CC) caused by oncogenic Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common cancer in young Japanese women. Vaccination against HPV offers a primary prevention strategy. This study investigates knowledge of and attitudes towards CC and HPV vaccine in Japanese mothers.
Methods Mothers (n=2192) with daughters aged 10–14 yrs were recruited from five elementary and 14 junior high schools in Sapporo city. After ethical approval, an anonymous questionnaire was distributed in schools and returned to the main investigator by post between July and September 2010.
Results In total 876 questionnaires (40%) were returned and 862 used for analysis. Median age was 42 yrs. A total of 61.6% of mothers had undergone recent CC screening and 12.3% had experienced abnormalities. If vaccination were free 92.6% of mothers would vaccinate, but this decreased to 4.3% if the cost was >40 000 yen. While 52% of mothers knew of HPV, only 6.4% knew it caused CC. While, 73.1% thought their daughter was at risk of HPV infection, 72.5% also believed their daughter may die from it. While 85.7% wanted more information, 67.6% said they would use the Internet. Only 9.8% would ask a doctor. Factors significantly associated with vaccination intent were recent screening (OR=1.6, 95% CI 1.0 to 2.7), >13 yrs education (OR=1.4, 95% CI 1.0 to 2.3), believing vaccines prevented disease (OR=15.1, 95% CI 6.3 to 36.5) and no concerns about childhood vaccine safety (OR=3.8, 95% CI 1.9 to 7.9). Abnormal smears were not significant.
Conclusion Knowledge of HPV is poor. However, high HPV vaccination coverage may be possible if appropriate funding and education are provided.