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Risk Messages about HPV, Cervical Cancer, and the HPV Vaccine Gardasil in North American News Magazines


The human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine (Gardasil) is a significant advancement in reducing women’s risk for cervical cancer. Public opinion of the vaccine can be influenced by the mass media. We used content analysis to assess the discussion of risks, fear-inducing messages about HPV, cervical cancer, and the HPV vaccine in four high circulating North American news magazines from January 2006 to December 2007. Risk messages about HPV and cervical cancer focused on threatening illness or injury. Reporting on the HPV vaccine emphasized it being poorly understood by science. News magazine articles on the HPV vaccine and cervical cancer included fear-inducing messages. Cancer educators need to be aware of media reporting in order to alleviate fears that the public may experience about the HPV vaccine.

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Correspondence to Laurie Hoffman-Goetz.

Additional information

Supported by a grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

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Abdelmutti, N., Hoffman-Goetz, L. Risk Messages about HPV, Cervical Cancer, and the HPV Vaccine Gardasil in North American News Magazines. J Canc Educ 25, 451–456 (2010).

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  • HPV vaccine
  • Magazines
  • Risk communication
  • Fright factors