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Improving Knowledge and Awareness of Human Papillomavirus-Associated Gynecologic Cancers: Results from the National Comprehensive Cancer Control Program/Inside Knowledge Collaboration

Julie S Townsend, Mary Puckett, Cynthia A Gelb, Martin Whiteside, Julia Thorsness, Sherri L Stewart
Journal of Women's Health 2018, 27 (8): 955-964

BACKGROUND: Over 16,000 women are diagnosed with a human papillomavirus (HPV)-associated gynecologic cancer every year. Because most of these cancers are preventable, correct and appropriate information about the HPV vaccine and cervical cancer screening can help reduce incidence.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention created Inside Knowledge: Get the Facts About Gynecologic Cancer campaign materials, which were used by seven National Comprehensive Cancer Control Program recipients in tailored educational sessions on gynecologic cancer with women and healthcare providers in the community setting. Session participants completed presession and postsession questionnaires. Differences in knowledge and intentions were assessed using chi-square tests for women in the general public, obstetricians/gynecologists (OB/GYNs), primary care physicians (PCPs), and other healthcare providers.

RESULTS: Women's knowledge improved significantly presession to postsession that HPV causes vaginal (39%-65%, p < 0.001) and vulvar cancers (26%-60%, p < 0.001), but postsession few women correctly identified all HPV-associated gynecologic cancers (15%). From presession to postsession, more women were able to correctly identify recommended age groups for whom the HPV vaccine is recommended (15%-30%, p < 0.001), and that the Pap test only screens for cervical cancer (58%-73%, p < 0.001). Among providers, OB/GYNs had more baseline knowledge of HPV-associated gynecologic cancers than other providers. Postsession, PCPs and other providers increased their knowledge of HPV vaccine recommended age groups (33%-71% and 23%-61%, respectively), and the 3-year recommended screening interval for the Pap test (73%-91% and 63%-85%, respectively). HPV vaccine knowledge did not show significant improvement among OB/GYNs postsessions.

CONCLUSIONS: Women and healthcare providers who attended the Inside Knowledge sessions significantly improved their knowledge of HPV-associated gynecologic cancers. Additional educational activities during the sessions that support distinguishing between HPV-associated versus other gynecologic cancers and clarify HPV vaccine recommendations may help with further increases in knowledge.


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