Journal of Cancer Education

, Volume 33, Issue 2, pp 278–283 | Cite as

Changes in HPV Knowledge Among College Women from 2008 to 2015

  • Erika L. Thompson
  • Cheryl A. Vamos
  • Stacey B. Griner
  • Ellen M. Daley


The human papillomavirus (HPV) can cause anogenital cancers and genital warts; however, it can be prevented through the HPV vaccine, which has been available since 2006. While this vaccine is targeted toward 11-to-12-year-olds, 18-to-26-year-old young adult women are eligible for “catch-up” vaccination. Knowledge of HPV may impact HPV vaccine uptake among this population. The purpose of this study was to assess changes in HPV knowledge and HPV vaccine information sources among young adult college women over a 7-year period. Two independent samples (N = 223 for 2008; N = 323 for 2015) completed a 23-item knowledge scale and survey regarding HPV. Adjusted logistic regression models compared the odds of correctly answering each knowledge item between each time period. The study found that HPV knowledge increased significantly over time (p < 0.01). The participants in 2015 were more likely than the 2008 participants to accurately report that a condom can decrease the chance of HPV transmission; there is a vaccine for women that prevents certain types of HPV; HPV can cause genital warts; HPV can be passed to a newborn at birth; and even if you do not see a wart, you can transmit HPV. Recent participants were also more likely to correctly report only women can get HPV as false. While improvements in HPV knowledge were found over time, misperceptions regarding outcomes associated with HPV persist. In order to promote HPV vaccination among this population, health literacy skills, in addition to knowledge, should be improved.


HPV vaccination Knowledge Young adult women 



The authors would like to acknowledge the researchers who contributed to the data collection in 2008, specifically, Kay Perrin PhD, Eric Buhi PhD, Stephanie Kolar PhD, Robert McDermott PhD, Natalie Hernandez PhD, and Hollie Fuhrmann.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Ellen Daley has served on the U.S. Scientific Advisory Board for the HPV Vaccine with Merck Pharmaceuticals. All other authors have no conflict to disclose.

Financial Disclosure

No financial disclosures were reported by the authors of this paper.


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Copyright information

© American Association for Cancer Education 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Erika L. Thompson
    • 1
  • Cheryl A. Vamos
    • 1
  • Stacey B. Griner
    • 1
  • Ellen M. Daley
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Community and Family Health, College of Public HealthUniversity of South FloridaTampaUSA

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