Young adults and acceptance of the human papillomavirus vaccine

C H Lenselink, C E Schmeink, W J G Melchers, L F A G Massuger, J C M Hendriks, D van Hamont, R L M Bekkers
Public Health 2008, 122 (12): 1295-301

OBJECTIVES: To determine whether young Dutch adults had ever heard of human papillomavirus (HPV) and whether they would accept vaccination, and to assess the factors influencing their decision.

STUDY DESIGN: Cross-sectional survey.

METHODS: Six hundred participants aged 18-25 years were recruited from two university departments and one non-university technical college.

RESULTS: One hundred and six (17.7%) participants had heard of HPV and 536 (94%) had heard of cervical carcinoma. Women had significantly more knowledge of cervical carcinoma than men. A medical education, knowledge of HPV, knowledge of cervical cancer and knowledge of the cervical screening programme were not significantly associated with acceptance of HPV vaccination, whereas gender and age did show a significant relationship. In total, 61% of the female participants and 48% of the male participants were willing to accept a 'catch-up' HPV vaccination.

CONCLUSIONS: This study found that average knowledge levels of HPV and cervical cancer were low. Despite this lack of knowledge, a small majority of the study population would accept a 'catch-up' HPV vaccination. Women and younger participants were significantly more willing to accept HPV vaccination. However, in these subgroups, acceptance of HPV vaccination seems to be affected by other, still unidentified, factors. These factors could be evaluated in a more qualitative orientated study. An educational campaign is needed to cover knowledge about HPV and cervical carcinoma, and beliefs and behaviours associated with the acceptance of vaccination.

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