Human papillomavirus risk perceptions and relationship status: a barrier to HPV vaccination?

  • Erika L. ThompsonEmail author
  • Cheryl A. Vamos
  • Rumour Piepenbrink
  • Mika Kadono
  • Coralia Vázquez-Otero
  • Sarah Matthes
  • Ellen M. Daley
Brief Report


The purpose of this study was to assess the association between relationship status and perceived risk for human papillomavirus (HPV) among young adults. College adults, aged 18–26 years, completed an online survey from November 2016–April 2017 (n = 385). The survey assessed HPV vaccination status, perceived HPV risk, and current relationship status. Logistic regression models estimated the odds of perceived high risk for HPV, stratified by vaccination status. Among unvaccinated women, relationship status and HPV risk perception were significantly associated, with dating women more likely (OR = 5.33, 95%CI 1.16–24.50) to perceive a high risk for HPV compared to women in a committed relationship. Women in relationships were less likely to perceive themselves at high risk for HPV, even though HPV infection is prevalent among young adults. This association is not present for vaccinated women, suggesting that relationship status and risk perceptions may represent barriers to HPV vaccine uptake.


Vaccination Risk perceptions Prevention Young adults 



The authors would like to acknowledge the many graduate research assistants at the College of Public Health, University of South Florida for their assistance with data collection on this project.


This study was funded by the University of South Florida College of Public Health Interdisciplinary Research Grant.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

Erika L. Thompson, Cheryl A. Vamos, Rumour Piepenbrink, Mika Kadono, Coralia Vázquez-Otero, Sarah Matthes and Ellen M. Daley have no conflicts to disclose.

Human and animal rights and Informed consent

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Health Behavior and Health Systems, School of Public HealthUniversity of North Texas Health Science CenterFort WorthUSA
  2. 2.Community and Family Health Concentration, College of Public HealthUniversity of South FloridaTampaUSA
  3. 3.Department of Anthropology, College of Arts and SciencesUniversity of South FloridaTampaUSA
  4. 4.Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology, School of Public HealthUniversity of North Texas Health Science CenterFort WorthUSA

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