Prevention Science

, Volume 13, Issue 2, pp 173–182 | Cite as

Effects of a Narrative HPV Vaccination Intervention Aimed at Reaching College Women: A Randomized Controlled Trial

  • Suellen HopferEmail author


This longitudinal study reports on the development and evaluation of a narrative intervention aimed at increasing human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination among college women. The prevention of HPV is a public health priority due to its pervasiveness and relationship to cervical cancer, the second leading cause of cancer deaths among women worldwide. Pilot work utilizing culture-centric narrative theory guided development of the intervention content. Exemplification theory led to hypotheses comparing communication sources of the narrative messages (peer only, medical expert only, or a combination of the two source types) in a four-arm randomized controlled trial (N = 404; 18–26 year olds). The combined peer-expert narrative intervention nearly doubled vaccination compared to controls (22% vs. 12%). The pragmatic goal of increasing HPV vaccination and the theoretical predictions about message source were supported. As predicted, the inclusion of peer and medical expert sources plays a critical role in promoting HPV vaccination among college women. Furthermore, the intervention increased HPV vaccination by increasing vaccine self-efficacy and intent. Theoretical and practical implications for designing effective HPV vaccine messages are discussed.


HPV vaccination Culture-centric narrative communication theory Communication source College women 



This research was supported by a Cooperative Agreement Number R36 CD0000704 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the author and do not necessarily represent the official views of the CDC. The author gratefully acknowledges Michael Hecht for his review of the manuscript and mentorship throughout the design and implementation of the overall project as a dissertation, Michelle Miller-Day, Greg Zimet, Heather Brandt, and Allison Friedman for their feedback in developing the HPV vaccine messages, Peg Spear and Linda LaSalle for their support of the project and collaboration with UHS, and all the women who participated in the study.


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Copyright information

© Society for Prevention Research 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Pennsylvania State UniversityThe Methodology CenterState CollegeUSA

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