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Ger Med Sci. 2013 Oct 17;11:Doc15. doi: 10.3205/000183. eCollection 2013.

Impact of numerical information on risk knowledge regarding human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination among schoolgirls: a randomised controlled trial.

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Unit of Health Sciences and Education, University of Hamburg, Germany.


in English, German


In Germany the implementation of human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination for women aged 12-17 years was accompanied by various campaigns. Evidence-based information including numerical data was not provided. However, standard information leads to overestimation of cancer risk and effects of HPV vaccination. Confidence in children's ability to deal with numerical data is low, especially in disadvantaged pupils. The aim of the present study was to compare the effects of a standard leaflet with an information leaflet supplemented with numerical data on 'risk knowledge' regarding HPV vaccination among schoolgirls.


Randomised-controlled short-term trial. All 108 schoolgirls of seven school classes were asked to participate and 105 agreed. Participants were vocational schoolgirls who were preparing for grade 10 graduation and who were members of the target group for HPV vaccination. The control group was asked to read a standard leaflet on HPV vaccination of the German Women's Health Network. The intervention group received the same leaflet, but it was supplemented with numerical information on cancer risk and assumed effects of the HPV vaccination on cancer prevention. As baseline characteristics we surveyed: age, vaccination status, attitude towards HPV vaccination and aspects regarding migration background. The primary end point was 'risk knowledge'. Questionnaire surveys were performed under experimental conditions. Individual randomisation, participants, and intention-to-treat data analyses were blinded. The study was approved by the Ministry of Education and Culture of Schleswig-Holstein and the ethics committee of the Hamburg Chamber of Physicians.


We analysed 'risk knowledge' for all 105 randomised participants. Baseline characteristics of the two groups were comparable. Numerical risk information recipients were more likely to give correct answers compared to standard information recipients: Mean value of risk knowledge score (0-5 points): 4.6±1.0 vs. 2.6±1.2 (mean difference 2.0 (95% CI 1.6-2.4)); (P<0.001). Post hoc distractor analysis of single items was performed. Incorrect answers of control participants indicated that cervical cancer risk was highly overestimated whereas total cancer risk was mostly underestimated, and possible impact of HPV vaccination on cancer prevention was overestimated.


Supplementing health information on HPV vaccination with numerical data improves 'risk knowledge' among schoolgirls.


consumer health information; evidence-based medicine; human papillomavirus vaccination; risk knowledge

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