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Beyond the responsibility binary: analysing maternal responsibility in the human papillomavirus vaccination decision.

Authors
  • Albert, Katelin1
  • 1 Department of Sociology, University of Toronto, Scarborough, ON, Canada. , (Canada)
Type
Published Article
Journal
Sociology of health & illness
Publication Date
Jul 01, 2019
Volume
41
Issue
6
Pages
1088–1103
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1111/1467-9566.12887
PMID: 30874326
Source
Medline
Keywords
Language
English
License
Unknown

Abstract

With the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine positioned as the "right tool" to protect girls' health and sexual health, public discourse positions parents as "responsible" if they vaccinate, "irresponsible" if they do not. The problem with this binary, however, is that it cannot account for the full spectrum of responsibilities and social norms that parents enact in vaccine decisions. In this paper, and in the context of low HPV vaccination rates, I confront this binary and encourage a fuller view of adolescent health and sexual health. Using data from qualitative semi-structured interviews with 28 Canadian mothers tasked with consenting to the HPV vaccine, I examine the complexity of this responsibility. I find HPV vaccine-consenting mothers have normative conceptualisations of responsibility aligned with dominant interpretations of public health. Rather than expressing irresponsibility, some non-HPV vaccine-consenting mothers articulated alternate responsibilities, aligned with broad efforts to manage their teens' sexual health and sexuality. They extend responsibility beyond cancer protection vis-à-vis vaccines to a general responsibility for daughters' sexual health and self-esteem. In conclusion, I recommend the need for a broader public health approach to HPV, which includes, and goes beyond vaccination. Moreover, I suggest that some of these alternate responsibilities be viewed as complementary to vaccination. © 2019 Foundation for the Sociology of Health & Illness.

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