Cervical Cancer Patients’ Willingness and Ability to Serve as Health Care Educators to Advocate for Human Papillomavirus Vaccine Uptake

  • Ilene G. Ladd
  • Radhika P. Gogoi
  • Tyler L. Bogaczyk
  • Sharon L. Larson


Human papillomavirus (HPV) causes nearly all cervical cancer. Only half of females and less than half of males receive the recommended HPV vaccine dose. This study explores whether cervical cancer patients may serve as health advocates to adolescents and their parents in encouraging the uptake of the HPV vaccine. The study targeted an opportunity sample of women seen in the gynecology oncology clinic with a diagnosis of cervical cancer. During interviews, patients were asked about the following: provider conversations regarding cervical cancer, knowledge of HPV and the vaccine, discussions with family or friends about the causes or prevention of cervical cancer, and whether they would be willing to talk with others about the HPV vaccine. Twenty-three interviews were conducted in 2016–2017. Patients ranged from 28 to 61 years of age. Four team members developed a coding list, then used these themes to code the interviews. Six themes resulted from the analysis of the transcripts: (1) Expressions of fears, questioning effectiveness of vaccine; (2) Low level of health literacy; (3) Acquiring health information from television, internet; (4) Provider conversations (with patients regarding HPV and the vaccine); (5) Patient stigma surrounding cervical cancer; (6) Patients’ willingness to serve as a health care educator. While cervical cancer patients overall expressed a willingness to serve as health care educators, barriers remain. Low health literacy and a lack of understanding of the causes of cervical cancer persist. These issues will need to be addressed in order for cervical cancer patients to be effective advocates.


Cervical cancer HPV vaccination Education Survivors 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

This study received approval from the Geisinger Institutional Review Board. The IRB approved that verbal consent was sufficient for patient participation in the interviews. Informed consent was obtained from all participants included in the study.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© American Association for Cancer Education 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ilene G. Ladd
    • 1
  • Radhika P. Gogoi
    • 1
  • Tyler L. Bogaczyk
    • 2
  • Sharon L. Larson
    • 3
  1. 1.GeisingerDanvilleUSA
  2. 2.Drexel UniversityPhiladelphiaUSA
  3. 3.Center for Population Health ResearchMain Line Health System and Jefferson College of Population HealthWynnewoodUSA

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