Controversy hinders support for HPV vaccine laws
People are less likely to support laws requiring the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine for young girls when they learn that there is controversy over such laws, finds SPH research.
While the vaccine that protects against the potentially cancer-causing virus is widely supported in the medical and public health communities, state laws requiring girls to be vaccinated for middle-school attendance have caused controversy among parents, politicians, and even medical and public health experts disagreeing about whether such laws are appropriate. News coverage about the vaccine requirements likely amplifies the controversy.
Study among first to look at media’s role in health policy
SPH assistant professor Sarah Gollust finds that the controversy, in turn, leads to diminished public support for legally mandating the HPV vaccine. The study is among the first to examine the direct tie between controversy about a piece of health policy portrayed in the news media and public support for the policy.
“This research raises important questions about how the news media’s tendency to report on controversy shapes public opinion about health policy,” says Gollust.