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Sexually Transmitted Diseases:
doi: 10.1097/OLQ.0000000000000021
Original Study

Parents' and Sons' Beliefs in Sexual Disinhibition After Human Papillomavirus Vaccination

Mayer, Melissa K. BA*; Reiter, Paul L. PhD†‡; Zucker, Rachel A. BA*; Brewer, Noel T. PhD

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Abstract

Background

The concern that adolescent girls who receive human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine may be more likely to have sex (ie, sexual disinhibition) has been commonplace in media coverage, but this belief is not held by many parents of adolescent girls. Because no studies have addressed this topic for adolescent boys, we examined parents’ and their adolescent sons’ beliefs in sexual disinhibition occurring after boys receive HPV vaccine.

Methods

A national sample of parents of adolescent boys (n = 547) and their sons (aged 15–17 years; n = 176) completed online surveys in fall 2010. We used multi-item scales to measure parents’ and sons’ beliefs in sexual disinhibition after HPV vaccination. We used multivariate linear regression to identify correlates of beliefs in sexual disinhibition.

Results

Less than a quarter of parents or sons agreed with statements suggesting that HPV vaccination leads to sexual disinhibition among adolescent boys (range, 20%–24%). Parents who had more liberal political affiliations (β = −0.11), had a daughter who had received HPV vaccine (β = −0.12), or had no daughter (β = −0.10) reported weaker beliefs in sexual disinhibition. Parents who reported higher anticipated regret if their sons got HPV vaccine and fainted (β = 0.18) indicated stronger beliefs in sexual disinhibition. Sons who perceived higher peer acceptance of HPV vaccination (β = 0.44) or were Hispanic (β = 0.21) had stronger beliefs in sexual disinhibition.

Conclusions

Most parents and sons did not believe that HPV vaccination leads to sexual disinhibition among boys. Understanding the characteristics of parents and sons who hold these beliefs may help inform efforts to increase HPV vaccine uptake among boys.

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