Objective. To determine women's knowledge of the cervical cancer prevention process, the human papillomavirus (HPV), and the HPV vaccination.
Materials and Methods. Nonpregnant women, ages 18 and older presenting to the gynecology clinic of a Midwestern state university medical school, were asked about demographic factors and questioned about cervical cancer prevention, HPV, and HPV vaccine. Responses were tabulated, summed scores were calculated, and correlations were assessed using Pearson correlation coefficients, independent groups t tests, analyzes of variance with Tukey HSD follow-ups, and general linear models.
Results. Of 420 participating women, 378 (90%) correctly identified the purpose of the Pap test, 345 (82%) knew who should receive the test, and 391 (92%) correctly identified the risks for cervical cancer and the meaning of an abnormal Pap test. Two hundred seventy-five (65%) had heard of the HPV vaccine, and 45 (11%) recognized its effectiveness in preventing cervical cancer. One hundred sixty-five (39%) were likely to recommend it, and only 33 (8%) wanted to receive it. Advertising and news stories were dominant sources of information about the HPV vaccine. Knowledge about cervical cancer was better in women with higher income, private insurance, 5 to 10 partners, 2 or fewer children, some college education, Caucasian ethnicity, and "current marriage" status. Knowledge about HPV and HPV vaccination was better among Caucasians and women under 45 years, current or previous smokers, and those with 2 or fewer children.
Conclusions. Knowledge of cervical cancer screening, HPV, and HPV vaccine is better than historical reports, possibly reflecting the impact of advertising and news stories about HPV vaccination. Knowledge was lower among women with demographic risks for cervical cancer, suggesting that vaccination messages should be targeted to those women.