The psychosocial burden of HPV: a mixed-method study of knowledge, attitudes and behaviors among HPV+ women

J Health Psychol. 2010 Mar;15(2):279-90. doi: 10.1177/1359105309351249.


Despite an increased awareness and 'normalization' of Human Papillomavirus (HPV) following the release of the HPV vaccine, the psychosocial impact of an HPV infection, the most common sexually transmissible infection (STI), must not be overshadowed. This study employed in-depth interviews (N = 52) and quantitative surveys (N = 154) to assess the knowledge, emotional impact and behavioral consequences of an HPV-related diagnosis in women who had received abnormal Pap test results. Findings revealed confusion over test results and themes related to stigma, fear, self-blame, powerlessness and anger emerged. The promotion of the HPV vaccine should not obfuscate the psychosocial burden associated with an HPV diagnosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anger
  • Condylomata Acuminata / psychology*
  • Contact Tracing
  • Cost of Illness*
  • Fear
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Illness Behavior*
  • Internal-External Control
  • Interview, Psychological
  • Middle Aged
  • Papillomavirus Infections / diagnosis
  • Papillomavirus Infections / psychology*
  • Papillomavirus Vaccines / administration & dosage
  • Prejudice
  • Risk Factors
  • Self Concept
  • Sexual Partners / psychology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / psychology
  • Vaginal Smears
  • Young Adult


  • Papillomavirus Vaccines