National Trends in Human Papillomavirus Awareness and Knowledge of Human Papillomavirus–Related Cancers

Christopher W. Wheldon, Melinda Krakow, Erika L. Thompson, Richard P. Moser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Introduction: The President's Cancer Panel released a report in 2014 calling for communication strategies to promote the human papillomavirus vaccine among males and females. The purpose of this study was to (1) estimate changes in human papillomavirus awareness and knowledge of human papillomavirus–related cancers from 2014 to 2017 using a nationally representative survey of adults in the U.S. and (2) identify differences in population subgroups that showed significant changes in human papillomavirus awareness and knowledge of human papillomavirus–related cancers. Methods: Data were from the Health Information National Trends Survey (2014 and 2017 surveys). Health Information National Trends Survey is a cross-sectional, nationally representative survey of non-institutionalized adults (aged ≥18 years) in the U.S. Human papillomavirus awareness was assessed with one item indicating aware or never heard of human papillomavirus. Human papillomavirus–related cancer knowledge was assessed with four items asking if human papillomavirus can cause cervical, anal, oral, or penile cancer (responses coded yes/no or not sure). Results: The majority (64%, SE=1.4) were aware of human papillomavirus. Awareness was higher among females and the vaccine-eligible subpopulation. No change in awareness was observed. Knowledge of cervical cancer was high (78%), but low for anal (26%); oral (30%); and penile (30%) cancers. Cervical cancer knowledge significantly increased among females, and anal cancer knowledge increased among college graduates and non–vaccine eligible subgroups. No other increases in human papillomavirus–related cancer knowledge were observed. Conclusions: The general public was moderately aware of human papillomavirus, but associated human papillomavirus with cervical cancer. Knowledge of non-cervical human papillomavirus–related cancers is low, even among vaccine-eligible subgroups. Public health education is needed to raise awareness of non-cervical human papillomavirus–related cancers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e117-e123
JournalAmerican Journal of Preventive Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2019


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