241448 HPV/HPV vaccine understanding of incoming college freshman and implications for male students

Wednesday, November 2, 2011: 11:30 AM

Lauren D. Arnold, PhD, MPH , School of Public Health, Department of Epidemiology, St. Louis University, St. Louis, MO
Betsy Foy, EdD, CHES , Student Health Services, Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, MO
Melissa Ruwitch, BA , Student Health Services, Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, MO
Hallie Steinfeld , College of Arts & Sciences, Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, MO
Alan Glass, MD , Student Health Services, Washington Unviersity in St. Louis, St. Louis, MO
Purpose: To assess human papillomavirus (HPV) knowledge and vaccine uptake in incoming first-year university students.

Methods: Customized survey items were added to an online, pre-matriculation health education program administered in the summer of 2009 to incoming students at a Midwestern University. Questions assessed knowledge of HPV prevalence, transmission, consequences, and vaccination, as well as interest in learning more about HPV/HPV vaccination. Eligible participants included incoming first-year students ≥18 years; transfer students were excluded. Analysis was restricted to those who had heard of HPV prior to the survey. Descriptive statistics were generated, and differences by gender were examined.

Results: Seventy-three percent of the 1,257 program participants answered the HPV questions, representing 68% of incoming freshman. Respondents were 50.8% female and predominantly White/Non-Hispanic (70.5%). Non-responders were more likely to be male and identify as Asian/Pacific Islander (p < 0.001). Although most had heard of HPV, only 60% knew it causes genital warts; significantly less male students were aware that HPV is common and causes warts. One-third of males wanted information about HPV vaccination to make a vaccination decision while in college. A larger percentage of non-White students indicated intent to vaccinate during college or desire for information before making decisions.

Recommendations: First-year students, particularly males, may have substantial gaps in HPV knowledge but strong desire for information about the virus and vaccination options. University Student Health Services should make concerted efforts to tailor educational material to the male population and consider male interest when disseminating information about HPV and HPV vaccination.

Learning Areas:
Chronic disease management and prevention
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Protection of the public in relation to communicable diseases including prevention or control

Learning Objectives:
Describe differences in male and female first-year university students' understanding of and attitudes towards HPV vaccination.

Keywords: Adolescent Health, College Students

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a faculty member in the Division of Public Health Sciences/Cancer Prevention & Control, have conducted survey studies in women's health, and have worked on several collaborative HPV/HPV vaccination projects. Previously, I presented at APHA on cervical cancer prevention in racial minorities.
Any relevant financial relationships? Yes

Name of Organization Clinical/Research Area Type of relationship
Merck Vaccine Stock Ownership

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.