Understanding Human Papillomavirus: An Internet Survey of Knowledge, Risk, and Experience among Female and Male College Students in HawaiiReport as inadecuate

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American Journal of Health Education, v39 n1 p15-24 Jan-Feb 2008

Background: Persistent Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is an etiologic agent in the development of cervical cancer. Despite the increasingly high prevalence of HPV, people at risk of exposure lack knowledge about the virus, its relationship to cervical cancer, and a realistic perspective regarding HPV consequences. Purpose: To describe knowledge about HPV with particular emphasis on behavioral risk and experience with HPV and an abnormal Pap smear. Methods: A 36-item Internet survey was developed which included a 14-item knowledge composite (HPVAPK), a behavioral risk composite, and an experience composite. The independent variables examined were gender, HPV-risk behavior, and experience. The dependent variable (HPVAPK) was a knowledge-composite that addressed HPV and abnormal Pap smears. Results: Among the students (n=492) who completed the Internet survey, females with higher risk behavior and those with a history of an abnormal Pap were more knowledgeable than males, those with lower risk behavior, and those with indirect experience, or no experience with the topic. However, even those with the highest knowledge scores exhibited a low level of knowledge regarding particular HPV issues. Discussion: Not only did this study reveal a low level of knowledge about HPV and abnormal Pap smears, it revealed particular topics that are misunderstood about HPV and the diagnosis of an abnormal Pap smear--even among women who have experience with an abnormal Pap smear. Translation to Health Education Practice: The issues highlighted should be included when discussing HPV and abnormal Pap smears with both males and females within small educational forums such as health education classes, and student health visits. (Contains 3 tables and 2 figures.)

Descriptors: Sexually Transmitted Diseases, Health Education, Cancer, College Students, Student Surveys, Internet, Knowledge Level, Risk, Experience, Gender Differences

American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance. 1900 Association Drive, Reston, VA 20191. Tel: 800-213-7193; Fax: 703-476-9527; e-mail: info[at]aahperd.org; Web site: http://www.aahperd.org

Author: Bertram, Cathy C.; Niederhauser, Victoria P.

Source: https://eric.ed.gov/?q=a&ft=on&ff1=dtySince_1992&pg=2917&id=EJ795583

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