Formative Research to Create Culturally Sensitive HPV Vaccine Messages for Middle-School Children




message design, child-parent communication, child-physician communication, culturally-sensitive message, HPV prevention


HPVs (Human Papilloma Viruses) are the cause of several diseases and types of cancer, but infections can be prevented through a vaccine that children are recommended to receive when they are about 12 years of age. Communicating with children about HPV is an important albeit underdeveloped task. This is especially critical in countries such as Italy, were the HPV vaccination rate is dropping. To understand Italian middle-school children’s communication challenges, needs and preferences, and to provide evidence to inform the development of targeted and culturally-sensitive messages about HPV for them, this study adopted a multi-method participatory approach consisting of focus group discussions and participatory drawings. Results indicated that children (N = 54) wanted to be actively engaged in decisions about their health but faced several communication challenges, including adults’ language and attitude. Children struggled to retrieve reliable information on their own. They provided specific information on the sources and the strategies they would want adults to adopt. Results helped to identify positive and negative behaviours among these themes, as well as key resources to be leveraged in the development of HPV-related messages. The communication strategies identified in this study may help parents, healthcare providers, and caregivers to improve their communication with children.




How to Cite

Occa, A., & Julien-Bell, S. (2021). Formative Research to Create Culturally Sensitive HPV Vaccine Messages for Middle-School Children. European Journal of Health Communication, 2(1), 77–98.



Original Research Paper