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Increasing Human Papillomavirus Vaccine Acceptability by Tailoring Messages to Young Adult Women’s Perceived Barriers

Gerend, Mary A. PhD*; Shepherd, Melissa A. BS; Lustria, Mia Liza A. PhD

Sexually Transmitted Diseases: May 2013 - Volume 40 - Issue 5 - p 401–405
doi: 10.1097/OLQ.0b013e318283c8a8
Original Study

Background Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination is a safe and effective primary prevention strategy for cervical cancer. Despite the need for effective HPV vaccination interventions, relatively few have been tested. Moreover, existing interventions have tended to use a one-size-fits-all educational approach. We investigated whether tailoring intervention materials to young adult women’s perceived barriers to HPV vaccination—a known psychosocial predictor of vaccine uptake—would increase women’s intentions to receive the HPV vaccine.

Methods Young adult women (N = 94; aged 18–26 years) who had not been vaccinated against HPV were randomly assigned to read either a nontailored message about HPV vaccination or a message that was individually tailored to participants’ perceived barriers to HPV vaccine uptake (e.g., safety concerns, cost, and not sexually active). Participants’ intentions to receive the HPV vaccine in the next year were assessed before and after delivery of the intervention and served as the primary outcome variable.

Results The most commonly selected barrier and primary reason for not getting vaccinated was concern about vaccine adverse effects (endorsed by 55%). Knowledge about HPV vaccination increased after exposure to the intervention but did not differ by experimental condition. Although HPV vaccination intentions increased from pretest to posttest in both conditions, participants in the tailored condition reported greater increases in intentions than did participants in the nontailored condition (F 1,90 = 4.02, P = 0.048, partial η 2 = 0.043).

Conclusions Findings suggest that tailoring intervention materials to women’s individual barriers is a potentially promising strategy for increasing HPV vaccination among young adult women.

Tailoring human papillomavirus intervention materials to young adult women’s individual barriers to human papillomavirus vaccine uptake resulted in increased intentions to receive the vaccine relative to participants receiving nontailored materials.

From the *College of Medicine, †Department of Psychology, and ‡College of Communication and Information, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL

The authors thank the members of the Women’s Health research team (Catherine Asistores, Saira Bari, Elisabeth Cavallaro, Courtney Costantino, Simone Knight, Mary Oglesby, Ashley Scheurer, and Jerica Urena) for their assistance with data collection and Dr Janet Shepherd for her comments on study materials. Portions of this article were presented at the 2012 Annual Meeting and Scientific Sessions of the Society of Behavioral Medicine in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Conflicts of interest and source of funding: The authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose. This research was supported, in part, by a grant from the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health (R03CA138069).

Correspondence: Mary A. Gerend, PhD, Department of Medical Humanities and Social Sciences, College of Medicine, Florida State University, 1115 W. Call St., Tallahassee, FL 32306. E-mail:

Received for publication September 1, 2012, and accepted December 18, 2012.

© Copyright 2013 American Sexually Transmitted Diseases Association