Academic journal article North American Journal of Psychology

An Examination of Factors Underlying HPV Vaccine Adoption: The Roles of Gender and Terminology

Academic journal article North American Journal of Psychology

An Examination of Factors Underlying HPV Vaccine Adoption: The Roles of Gender and Terminology

Article excerpt

The human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted virus in the United States (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2016a), as at least 50% of sexually active people will have genital HPV at some point in their lives. About 79 million Americans are currently infected with HPV, and approximately 14 million more become infected each year (CDC, 2016a). HPV is the primary cause of cervical cancer among females and genital warts in males and females, among many other health maladies. In the United States alone, over 12,000 females were diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2012, the most recent year in which such statistics were collected, and 4,072 died from it (CDC, 2016a). The CDC recommends HPV vaccination for girls and boys ages 11-12 years old (2016b), or for those in their teens and early twenties who neglected to do so at an earlier age.

Despite numerous promotional efforts, HPV vaccination rates remain disappointingly low, with just 39.7% of female minors and only 21.6% of males under the age of 17 completing the full sequence of three shots (CDC, 2016a). The anti-vaccination movement may potentially reduce HPV vaccination rates, with some activists suggesting that the HPV vaccine leads to suicidal thoughts (Berkley, 2013), a notion given further credence by a few national governments (e.g., Parliament of India, 2013), deliberately or otherwise. Parental refusal to vaccines in general remains a significant societal issue, an outcome widely attributed to anti-vaccination advocacy, and the HPV vaccine is no exception (Askelson, Campo, Lowe, Smith, Dennis, & Andsanger, 2010; Chatterjee & O'Keefe, 2010; Gesser-Edelsburg, Shir-Raz, & Green, 2014). In particular, males have adopted the vaccine at a much lower rate than females of similar ages, despite the risk that infections pose to their own health and that of their partners (Jones & Cook, 2008; Katz, Krieger, & Roberto, 2011). Given the obvious importance of vaccination for individuals (Rappuoli, Mandl, Black, & de Gregorio, 2011), in addition to the role that it plays in providing immunity for society as a whole (Fine, Eames, & Heymann, 2011), it is vital for us to understand the factors that influence the choice to pursue a vaccine or to forego it so that those barriers to vaccination can be appropriately targeted by future public health efforts.

It is imperative for researchers to better understand the factors that promote apathy or resistance to HPV vaccination. The present study used the theory of planned behavior (Fishbein & Ajzen, 1975) to address the decision-making antecedents that lead to the choice of whether or not to receive the HPV vaccine within a rural, medically underserved community to inform the development of more effective health campaigns that properly account for these individual differences. In particular, this study targets two factors that are suspected to play a key role in this process: 1) differences between males' and females' perceptions of the vaccination process and outcomes, and 2) the manner in which the description of HPV prevention as a "vaccine" may inadvertently stimulate sociopsychological barriers to its adoption.

Theory of Planned Behavior

The theory of planned behavior (TPB; Ajzen, 1991; Fishbein & Ajzen, 1975) is one of the most widely recognized theories used to explain health behaviors, and one that has seen especially widespread use in the context of HPV. Under TPB, behaviors are seen as being largely driven by the intent to perform them, and in the present context, an individual's intent to get the HPV vaccine results from attitudes (the degree to which a person has favorable or unfavorable evaluations of the vaccine), subjective norms (social pressure towards the behavior), and perceived behavioral control (the perceived ease or difficulty in performing the behavior). Subjective norms surrounding the HPV vaccine have been especially widely used to predict vaccination intent (e. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.