Communication Interactions, Needs, and Preferences During Clinical Encounters of African American Parent–Child Dyads

Jennifer Cunningham-Erves, Meredith Smalls, Elizabeth C. Stewart, Kathryn Edwards, Pamela C. Hull, Amanda F. Dempsey, Consuelo H. Wilkins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination rates remain suboptimal among African American adolescents. Although provider recommendations during clinical encounters are believed to be highly effective in increasing uptake and series completion, little has been reported about parent–child perspectives on the counseling received during these encounters. Among African American parent–child dyads, we sought to explore and compare interactions, needs, and preferences during clinical encounters by child’s HPV vaccination status. We applied a qualitative, phenomenological study design to conduct semi-structured interviews with African American parent–child dyads representing children who were unvaccinated (n = 10), had initiated but not completed (n = 9), or had completed the HPV vaccine series (n = 11). Using iterative, inductive-deductive thematic analysis, five themes were generated: (1) parents’ attitudes varied about the HPV vaccine but were mostly positive for vaccines in general; (2) patient-parent-provider clinical encounters from the parent perspective; (3) patient-parent-provider clinical encounters from the child perspective; (4) methods of distribution of supplemental HPV information; and (5) communication desired on HPV vaccination by parents and children. Parents stating they received a provider’s recommendation increased by vaccination status (unvaccinated: 6 out of 10; initiated: 8 out of 11; completed: 9 out of 9). Most parents and children were not satisfied with provider communication on the HPV vaccine and used supplemental materials to inform decision-making. Ongoing communication on the HPV vaccine was requested even post-vaccination of the child. During clinical encounters, children and parental messaging needs are similar yet dissimilar. We offer communication strategies and messaging that can be used for African American parent–child dyads by child HPV vaccination status during a clinical encounter.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of racial and ethnic health disparities
StateAccepted/In press - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, W. Montague Cobb-NMA Health Institute.


  • Adolescent health
  • African Americans
  • Clinical encounter
  • Communication
  • Hesitancy
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine
  • Parents

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Anthropology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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