Communication Issues Associated with the Likelihood of HPV Vaccine Acceptance among College Students

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Background. The purpose of this honors thesis is to examine the knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors of a key target audience for the HPV vaccine ? college undergraduates (particularly female) ? to determine what factors may be influencing its acceptance of the HPV vaccine. This study is based on the framework of Elaboration Parallel Processing Model and also looks into other risk perception issues such as optimistic bias. Methods. 269 Cornell undergraduates returned a survey regarding sexual history, sexual health practices, understanding of the HPV vaccine, and attitudes toward the HPV vaccine. All participants were assured anonymity, and no identifying information was connected to their survey responses. The survey used a modified risk diagnostic scale in order to measure mindsets toward the HPV vaccine. The survey also used measures for optimistic bias and knowledge. Results. Among key findings was a significant relationship between optimistic bias, perceived susceptibility, and perceived severity. Specifically, as optimistic bias increases, perceived susceptibility and perceived severity decrease. On the other hand, discriminating value scores increase as optimistic bias increases. General knowledge of HPV showed significant positive correlations with perceived severity, response-efficacy, self-efficacy, and perceived susceptibility. Exploratory analysis examined other factors for statistical significance. Conclusions. The use of the risk diagnostic scale appears useful for understanding issues involved in acceptance and receiving of the HPV vaccine. Furthermore, by looking into key attributes such as knowledge, discriminating value, optimistic bias, and vaccine rates, the investigation was able to come up with concrete results that may be of use to health communicators and practitioners.
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