Date of Conferral





Public Health


Raymond Panas


Hispanic and African American women are infected with sexually transmitted diseases more often than are Caucasian women. This racial disparity is also seen in the incidence of human papillomavirus (HPV) and cervical cancer. The medical connection between HPV and cervical cancer is often unknown or misunderstood among women. This study addressed the beliefs and subsequent health decisions of minority parents regarding whether to get their daughters vaccinated against HPV. The theoretical framework for this study was Rosenstock's health belief model (HBM). The specific study design used was Husserl and Heidegher's theory on Phenomenology. This qualitative study utilized focus groups containing mothers of young girls ages 9 to 12 years, who were recruited from local churches in San Antonio, TX. Twenty-seven mothers, African American (9), Hispanic (7), and Caucasian (11), participated in one of two focus groups for each racial group. Each focus group session was audiotaped and NVivo for Mac was used to perform a content analysis and to identify the themes present. Minority parents held stronger cultural and spiritual beliefs against vaccinating their daughters for a sexually transmitted disease more so than believing that their daughters were at risk for being exposed to STDs such as HPV. These beliefs presented as barriers to initiating the desired HPV prevention and screening practices. Gaps in the current knowledge of all parents exist and must be thoroughly addressed for all racial/ ethnic groups. Future educational programs need to not only address the gaps in knowledge but also shape and package public health messages with sensitivity to cultural and spiritual concerns.