Knowledge, attitudes, and practices related to human papillomavirus vaccination among college students in a state university: Implications for nurse practitioners

Publication Date

June 2020

Document Type


Publication Title

Journal of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners




Background: Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States and disproportionately affects adolescents and young adults. Although a safe and efficacious vaccine is available, many college students are unimmunized against HPV. Most students presenting to college health centers are within the age range for catch-up immunization, giving nurse practitioners (NPs) in this setting an opportunity to increase vaccination rates. More information is needed about college students' HPV knowledge, attitudes, and vaccination uptake so that NPs can make effective vaccine recommendations to this population.Purpose: To examine (a) Knowledge and attitudes about HPV and its vaccine; (b) HPV immunization practices; and (c) factors associated with HPV knowledge, attitudes, and vaccination among college students in a US university.Methods: This cross-sectional quantitative study collected data from participants in a state university student health center. Data collected included knowledge, attitudes, and practices about HPV and its vaccine from 627 students.Results: Participants had a moderately low HPV knowledge but positive attitudes toward HPV and its vaccine. Participants with a higher level of HPV knowledge were US born, health-related majors, married or divorced, and had positive attitudes. Higher HPV knowledge, vaccine uptake, and a family history of cervical cancer were associated with positive attitudes. Predictors for vaccine uptake include being a health-related major and positive vaccine attitudes.Implications for practice: The results of this study help NPs, registered nurses, and other health care providers make effective HPV vaccine recommendations to college students. Students with positive HPV attitudes can serve as peer educators to increase HPV vaccination awareness in this population.


Attitudes, HPV vaccines, college students, human papillomavirus, knowledge


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