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J Pediatr Adolesc Gynecol. 2000 Feb;13(1):15-20.

Adolescents' knowledge of human papillomavirus and cervical dysplasia.

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  • 1Division of Hematology/Oncology, Children's Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, OH 45229, USA.



This study examined adolescents' knowledge of human papillomavirus (HPV) and cervical dysplasia (CD). Factors associated with knowledge and self-reported change in health-related behaviors were identified.


Interviews were conducted at an average of 2.5 years following the diagnosis of HPV/CD. Medical charts were reviewed.


The study was conducted at a university-based adolescent dysplasia clinic.


Fifty females, ages 15-23 participated in the study: 88% African-American, 12% Caucasian.


On average, participants responded correctly to 86% of the questions regarding HPV/CD. However, the following key points were routinely missed: 52% did not know cigarette smoking increased the risk for cervical cancer; 42% believed that HPV/CD was always symptomatic; and 22% did not know condoms decreased the transmission of HPV. According to participants, their health care provider explained the diagnosis and treatment of HPV/CD using words they understood "some" or "most of the time." Higher academic skills significantly correlated with greater knowledge of HPV/CD. Forty-one percent of participants with a smoking history reportedly increased their smoking since the diagnosis, and only 40% used condoms "most of the time." However, 90% had maintained or increased their frequency of Pap tests.


Adolescent girls had knowledge of most factors related to HPV/CD, but many did not understand the risks of cigarette smoking and failure to use condoms. To improve understanding and compliance, health care providers should tailor educational strategies to the functional level of adolescents.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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