Predictors of human papillomavirus awareness and knowledge in 2013: Gaps and opportunities for targeted communication strategies

Kelly D. Blake, Allison J. Ottenbacher, Lila J. Finney Rutten, Meredith A. Grady, Sarah C. Kobrin, Robert M. Jacobson, Bradford W. Hesse

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations


Background Nearly 80 million people in the U.S. Are currently infected with at least one of two strains of human papillomavirus (HPV), which is associated with 70% of cervical cancers. Greater cervical cancer mortality has been observed among women of lower SES and those living in rural, versus urban, areas. African American and Hispanic women are significantly more likely to die from cervical cancer than non-Hispanic white women. Purpose To assess current population awareness of and knowledge about HPV and the HPV vaccine, as well as the contribution of sociodemographic characteristics to disparities in HPV awareness and knowledge. Methods Cross-sectional data were obtained from the National Cancer Institute's 2013 Health Information National Trends Survey (HINTS; N=3,185). Multivariable logistic regression was employed to identify gaps in awareness and knowledge by sex, education, income, race/ethnicity, geographic area, and other important sociodemographic characteristics. Analyses were conducted in 2014. Results Sixty-eight percent of Americans had heard of HPV and the HPV vaccine. Consistent with the Knowledge Gap Hypothesis, awareness and knowledge were patterned by sex, age, education, and other important sociodemographic factors. Those in rural areas were less likely than those in urban areas to know that HPV causes cervical cancer. Less than 5% of Americans were aware that HPV often clears on its own without treatment. Conclusions Although awareness and knowledge of HPV is increasing, there are opportunities to target communication with populations for whom knowledge gaps currently exist, in order to promote dialogue about the vaccine among patients and their providers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)402-410
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Preventive Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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