In the United States, Latinas experience higher incidence and mortality from cervical cancer than non-Hispanic white women.1 Underutilization of Papanicolaou (Pap) testing for cervical cancer screening among Latinas plays a major causal role in this disparity,2 as the majority of cervical cancer deaths are preventable with routine Pap testing and patient follow-up care.3 Another strategy for the prevention of cervical cancer is now available with the approval of two human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2006 and 2009. Public education programs that use tailored, evidence-based communication strategies to target high-risk groups are critical to ensure acceptance and uptake of the HPV vaccine by those most at risk for cervical cancer.4
Less acculturated Latino parents with lower levels of English-language proficiency may be less likely to be exposed to comprehensible educational materials related to cervical cancer than individuals with higher levels of English-language proficiency.5–8 Low levels of HPV and HPV vaccine awareness and knowledge among Latinos in a variety of U.S. regions have been demonstrated in several studies.9–11 However, a number of studies showed that when the HPV vaccine is presented as a strategy to prevent cervical cancer, support for vaccine uptake is high among Latinas and Latino parents.10,12,13
Collaborations with community-based partners who can inform the style, content, and relevancy of cancer education messages result in the most effective cancer prevention outreach efforts.14 One effective culturally tailored health education outreach strategy to target Latino communities is the use of novelas (short stories) for television, radio, and print. Novelas that are developed with Latino community input have been successful at promoting health education messages on human immunodeficiency virus and alcohol use to Spanish-speaking communities with low levels of literacy.15,16 The success of novelas within Latino communities in the U.S. may in part be the result of the implementation of novelas as effective health-promotion strategies in Latin America.17,18
In general, qualitative methodology has been shown to be a useful and valid strategy to develop the content of health education programs targeting Latinos. One study successfully used focus groups (FGs) and community meetings with community members and key leaders to develop a telenovela (short story or mini-drama produced for television), radionovela (short story or mini-drama produced for radio), and fotonovela (short story or mini-drama in the form of a photo pamphlet vignette), all with one storyline, to improve communication between parents and youth and youth attitudes regarding alcohol use within a Latino community.16
This is one of the first studies conducted on the development of a culturally appropriate radionovela to improve HPV and HPV vaccine knowledge and attitudes among Latino parents that employs Grounded Theory methodology related to the analysis of in-depth elicitation interviews and FGs. Furthermore, it is the first study to (1) explore the in-depth perspectives of Latino parents on a sensitive topic related to adolescent sexual health and (2) use these findings to develop a culturally tailored public health intervention to address parental concerns. The methodology employed in this study may be useful to other public health practitioners who are hoping to develop a tailored public health intervention on a new public health topic for a specific target population.