In 2006, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine Gardasil® (Merck) for girls and women aged 9-26 years. Although the vaccine is ideally administered to 11 and 12 year olds, college-aged women may be uniquely at risk for HPV due to high rates of sexual activity and, thus, serve as an important catch-up population for the HPV vaccine. The purpose of this study is to examine factors associated with HPV vaccination status among college women.
In fall 2008, a convenience sample of 256 undergraduate women enrolled in an introductory social science course at a large, public, urban university in the southeastern United States was surveyed. The 30-item paper-and-pencil questionnaire asked for demographic information, HPV knowledge, HPV vaccine beliefs, and HPV vaccination status. The overall survey response rate was 89.6%.
Most women were unmarried/single (91.7%), with a mean age of 18.9 years (range 17-42). Race/ethnicity status included 73.0% white, 17.5% Hispanic, and 7.7% black/African American. One hundred eleven (40.5%) women reported receiving the vaccine. Nonvaccinated women were less likely to have heard of the vaccine through a healthcare provider (odds ratio [OR] 0.12, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.04-0.35) or from a family member (OR 0.33, 95% CI 0.16-0.68) and more likely to consider a healthcare provider recommendation as being only somewhat important (OR 2.91, 95% CI 1.32-6.41) or not important at all (OR 5.61, 95% CI 0.44-71.87) vs. very important.
Findings suggest that healthcare providers have an important role in encouraging HPV vaccination. Continuing education for providers who see preadolescent girls in conjunction with a parent or who treat women of college age may be a worthwhile endeavor.