Last year in the UK over 60,000 cancer patients enrolled on clinical trials aimed at improving cancer treatments and making them available to all.
A study looking at how to increase the number of young women having the HPV vaccine
This study was done to see if it’s possible to run a larger study looking at offering a reward to increase the number of young women having the HPV vaccine. This is called a feasibility study. It was for young women between 12 and 13 years old (year 8).
More about this trial
The human papilloma virus (HPV) is a common virus. For most people it doesn’t cause any problems and goes away on its own.
There are different types (or strains) of HPV. We already know from research that certain types of HPV can cause changes to the cells of the cervix. These changed cells have a higher risk of becoming cervical cancer.
At the moment in the UK, girls between 12 and 13 years old are invited to have the HPV vaccine. This is part of the vaccination program.
Before they have the HPV vaccine, their parents get a letter and consent form to sign. But not all parents return the consent forms, so some girls don’t get the vaccine.
The researchers in this study wanted to find out if offering a reward would increase the number of consent forms returned. They thought this might help increase the number of girls having the HPV vaccine.
In this study, the girls either had a:
- standard invitation letter
- standard invitation letter and the offer of a reward
Everyone who had the invitation letter and the offer of a reward, had the chance to win a voucher if they returned the consent form. Even if they didn’t consent to the vaccine.
The study team also sent a questionnaire to everyone taking part. This asked them about things such as:
- what they thought about the study
- their religion and ethnic background
- whether they felt they made an informed decision about taking part in the vaccine program
The main aim of this study was to find out if it is possible to do a larger trial looking at whether offering a reward increases the number of girls having the HPV vaccine.
Summary of results
This study showed that it would be possible to do a larger trial looking at whether offering a reward could help increase the number of parents returning consent forms for the HPV vaccine program.
A total of 6 schools in London took part in this study. The girls in 3 of them were given the standard invitation letter. And the girls in the other 3 were given the standard invitation letter and the offer of a reward.
The study team sent questionnaires to 575 girls and their parents in total. The questionnaires were returned by:
- 95 (17%) parents
- 401 (70%) girls
Teachers asked the girls to fill out their questionnaires during school time. The parents were asked to return their questionnaires to the study team in a postage paid envelope. These different methods could explain the difference in the numbers returned.
320 girls were given consent forms and standard invitation letters to give to their parents, and:
- 215 (67%) returned the consent form
- 196 parents (61%) gave consent for their daughter to have the vaccine
255 girls were given consent forms with the offer of a reward to give to their parents, and:
- 222 (87%) returned the consent form
- 195 (76%) parents gave consent for their daughter to have the vaccine
In this study more people returned the consent form if it included the offer of a reward. And more parents in this group gave consent for their daughter to have the vaccine.
But the study team are keen to point out that the numbers are lower in the standard invitation letter group because of one school in particular. The numbers in this school were much lower than the other 2, so this made the overall number in that group lower than expected.
More parents in the group who had the offer of a reward felt that they made an informed decision about their daughter having the vaccine. And about 70% of parents in both groups felt that offering a reward was a good idea.
The study team concluded that it would be possible to do a larger trial looking at offering a reward for returning the HPV vaccine consent form. And that this might lead to an increase in the number of young girls who have the HPV vaccine.
We have based this summary on information from the research team. The information they sent us has been reviewed by independent specialists (
How to join a clinical trial
Dr Alice Forster
Cancer Research UK
University College London (UCL)