Human Papillomavirus and Vaccine Knowledge Among Health Professional Students [19O]

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Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is known to be associated with cancer, therefore, it is important that all health care team members are well educated about HPV screening and prevention. This study seeks to explore knowledge gaps among students in different health professional programs.


A 45-question survey was available on Google Forms from July 5 - September 1, 2017 for students in osteopathic medicine, nursing, physician assistant (PA), and pharmacy schools at Western University of Health Sciences (WesternU). Seventeen questions (yes/no answers) were used to assess knowledge of HPV. This study was approved by the Institutional Review Board at WesternU on an exempt basis.


This report is based on 265 completed surveys. Two-thirds (65.2%) of respondents were women; 60.4% were age 25-29; and 81.5% were osteopathic medical students. The correct answer percentage ranged from 32.8% (when dual testing begins) to 93.6% (if vaccinated women still require Pap smears). Half (50.6%) correctly reported the recommended age for vaccination. Women were more likely to know this fact (55.2% vs. 41.3%, P=.031) and that HPV infection is usually asymptomatic (69.8% vs. 57.6%, P=.0476). Osteopathic medical students were more likely than PA students to know the HPV subtypes associated with carcinoma (65.7% vs. 42.9%, P=.003).


There is a diverse deficit in HPV knowledge among health professional students from various programs. While post-graduate experiences may provide opportunities to close those gaps, it is important to recognize that more education is needed across programs regarding HPV testing and prevention.

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