MPH Thesis Defense: Harriet Kitur
Advisor/Chair: Dr. Alice M. Horowitz
Committee Members: Dr. Kenneth H. Beck and Dr. Min Qi Wang
Title: Exploring HPV Knowledge, Understanding and its Association with Health Beliefs, Health Literacy and Vaccination Status in a Sample of College Students
Purpose: The Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is one of the most common sexually transmitted viruses in the United States. HPV infections are associated with genital warts and cervical, vulvar, vaginal, penile, anal, and oropharyngeal cancers, with approximately 25,900 cases of HPV-associated cancers diagnosed each year in the United States (National Vaccine Advisory Committee, 2016). Almost half of all HPV infections occur in people aged 15–25 years (Fontenot, Fantasia, Charyk, & Sutherland, 2014). Previous studies have revealed misconceptions about the virus and varying levels of knowledge and awareness in college students. The aim of this study was to assess college students’ knowledge and awareness about HPV and its association with their vaccination status, health literacy, and their health beliefs (perceived susceptibility, perceived severity perceived benefits and perceived barriers).
Method: A cross-sectional survey was administered electronically and a total of 383 male and female student respondents from the University of Maryland College Park (UMCP) between the ages of 18-26 were used in the data analysis.
Results: Generally, the participants had high levels of HPV awareness (89.3%) and moderate mean knowledge score of 6.02 out of a possible 11 (SD=3.06). However, the results suggested gaps in HPV knowledge. Only about 40% or less of both male and female participants knew that HPV can cause multiple types of cancers. Chi-square test of independence done at the p≤.05 revealed statistically significant difference in knowledge scores between those who had received the vaccine and those who had not. Pearson correlation analysis revealed a positive association between health literacy and HPV knowledge. Perceived susceptibility was found to have a nonsignificant association with HPV knowledge and awareness. A negative significant correlation between HPV knowledge and awareness and perceived benefit. There was a negative correlation between HPV knowledge and awareness and perceived severity. There was also a significant positive correlation between HPV knowledge and awareness and perceived barrier.
Conclusion: The findings from this study expanded available research on HPV vaccine and its uptake. Continuing examination of HPV knowledge and understanding and identifying gaps and factors affecting vaccine uptake in potential vaccine recipients is pivotal to increasing vaccine uptake.