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J Community Health. 2014 Oct;39(5):835-41. doi: 10.1007/s10900-014-9858-2.

Views on human papillomavirus vaccination: a mixed-methods study of urban youth.

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Division of Emergency and Urgent Care, Department of Pediatrics, Children's Mercy Hospitals and Clinics, 2401 Gillham Road, Kansas City, MO, 64108, USA,


While the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine has potential to protect against the majority of HPV-associated cancers, vaccination rates in the United States remain low. Racial/ethnic and economic disparities exist for HPV vaccination completion rates. We conducted a mixed-methods study using the theory of planned behavior framework to explore attitudes and beliefs about HPV vaccination among urban, economically disadvantaged adolescents. Fifty adolescents aged 14-18 years were recruited from community-based organizations to complete a written survey and participate in a focus group. The mean age was 15.5 ± 1.3 years; 98 % were African American or mixed race; 64 % were female; 52 % reported previous sexual intercourse; 40 % reported receipt of ≥1 HPV vaccine dose. The knowledge deficit about the HPV vaccine was profound and seemed slightly greater among males. Mothers, fathers and grandmothers were mentioned as important referents for HPV vaccination, but peers and romantic partners were not. Common barriers to vaccination were lack of awareness, anticipated side effects (i.e., pain), and concerns about vaccine safety. Characteristics associated with ≥1 vaccine dose were: having heard of the HPV vaccine versus not (65 vs. 20 %, p = 0.002) and agreeing with the statement "Most people I know would think HPV vaccine is good for your health" versus not (67 vs. 27 %, p = 0.007). Our work indicates a profound lack of awareness about HPV vaccination as well as the important influence of parents among urban, economically-disadvantaged youth. Awareness of these attitudes and beliefs can assist providers and health officials by informing specific interventions to increase vaccine uptake.

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