HPV and HPV Vaccination Knowledge and Attitudes Among Medical Students in Alabama

  • Casey L. DanielEmail author
  • Lane McLendon
  • Chelsea L. Green
  • Katie J. Anderson
  • Jennifer Y. Pierce
  • Allen Perkins
  • Mark Beasley


In addition to being the most common sexually transmitted infection, the human papillomavirus (HPV) is associated with six types of cancer in men and women. The HPV vaccine provides long-lasting, effective protection from high-risk HPV infection, thus serving as a means of cancer prevention. An effective healthcare provider recommendation is well-established as the most significant influence on HPV vaccine uptake, and, as emerging providers, it is critical that medical students receive comprehensive training in this area. However, the type and extent of such training for current medical students in the USA is unclear. An online survey assessing HPV and HPV vaccine knowledge, attitudes, and vaccine status was distributed to all medical students at an Alabama university. Scales were developed to assess composite HPV and HPV knowledge scores and HPV vaccination intentions. Of those age-eligible, 32.1% reported completion of the HPV vaccine series while 15.2% reported partial completion. Knowledge of both HPV and HPV vaccination significantly increased with program year (p < 0.0001 and p = 0.0069, respectively); however, there were knowledge gaps across all years regarding HPV-associated cancers. Attitudes and intentions showed a similar association, with more advanced students demonstrating more positive attitudes toward HPV vaccination (p = 0.0003). There is a need within the current curriculum to include more education and training on HPV, HPV vaccination, and counseling—particularly for students in the first 2 years of their program. Implementation of a classroom module or interactive workshop would likely improve knowledge and attitudes, better preparing students for their future role as potential immunizers.


HPV Human papillomavirus Medical education Student Vaccination 



Research support was provided by the Abraham A. Mitchell Clinical Cancer Research Award.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Declaration of Helsinki and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. Approval for this study was gained through the Institutional Review Board at the University of South Alabama and informed consent was obtained from all individual 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 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of South Alabama College of MedicineMobileUSA
  2. 2.University of South Alabama Mitchell Cancer InstituteMobileUSA
  3. 3.University of Alabama at Birmingham Ryals School of Public HealthBirminghamUSA

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