Adolescents' knowledge, beliefs, and behaviors regarding hepatitis B: Insights and implications for programs targeting vaccine-preventable diseases

J Adolesc Health. 2005 Mar;36(3):178-86. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2004.08.002.


Purpose: To gain a better understanding of adolescents' knowledge, beliefs, and behaviors regarding hepatitis B.

Method: Three types of data were collected as part of this investigation: (a) 45 in-depth individual interviews with staff from 20 adolescent health, sexually transmitted disease (STD), and family planning clinics; (b) 96 individual interviews with adolescents and young adults; and (c) questionnaires completed by 17,063 adolescents and young adults. All instruments focused on one or more of the following five topics: (a) knowledge about vaccines; (b) knowledge about hepatitis B; (c) barriers to vaccine acceptance, and ways to overcome these barriers; (d) benefits of the vaccine acceptance, and ways to enhance these benefits; and (e) eight hepatitis B risk factors. Interview data was analyzed using qualitative thematic note-based analyses. Survey data was analyzed using descriptive statistics and Chi-square tests.

Results: Adolescents and young adults seen in these clinics know very little about vaccinations in general, or hepatitis B, in particular. Adolescents exhibit low levels of perceived susceptibility, severity, response efficacy, and self-efficacy toward hepatitis B and the hepatitis B vaccine. On average, these adolescents engage in 2.36 high-risk behaviors (the most frequent of which include sexual activity, body piercing, and tattooing). Those who were sexually active, had a tattoo, had a STD, or worked with blood were significantly more likely to begin the vaccination series.

Conclusions: There is a clear need for additional educational efforts regarding both vaccinations in general, and hepatitis B in particular. Though adolescents are engaging in a variety of high-risk behaviors, most perceive their risk to be low, and therefore many are not taking the necessary precautions to protect themselves.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior*
  • Adult
  • Attitude to Health
  • Body Piercing
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Hepatitis B / prevention & control*
  • Hepatitis B / transmission*
  • Hepatitis B Vaccines / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Needs Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Risk-Taking
  • Self Efficacy
  • Sexual Behavior
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases
  • Tattooing


  • Hepatitis B Vaccines