Passport to promiscuity or lifesaver: press coverage of HPV vaccination and risky sexual behavior

J Health Commun. 2010 Mar;15(2):205-17. doi: 10.1080/10810730903528066.


A significant minority of parents are concerned about adolescents engaging in risky sexual behavior following human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination. The way the HPV vaccine is reported in the media has the potential to influence public understanding and vaccination decisions. The present study examined the content of articles published between 2003 and 2008 in British national newspapers that addressed the issue of adolescents engaging in risky sexual behavior following HPV vaccination. We used mixed methods to analyze 92 articles in which the issue was mentioned. Qualitative framework analysis highlighted three main types of discussion: news stories proposing that adolescents will engage in risky sexual behavior following HPV vaccination, counterarguments insisting that adolescents will not engage in risky sexual behavior after HPV vaccination, and parents' views of the issue of risky sexual behavior. The results indicated that newspapers provide parents with broadly positive descriptive norms about vaccination; however, the issue that adolescents will engage in risky sexual behaviors following HPV vaccination is regularly discussed in the national press and has the potential to increase parents' concerns about vaccination.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior*
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Newspapers as Topic* / statistics & numerical data
  • Papillomavirus Infections / prevention & control*
  • Papillomavirus Vaccines*
  • Parents / psychology
  • Qualitative Research
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk-Taking
  • Sexual Behavior*
  • United Kingdom
  • Vaccination / psychology


  • Papillomavirus Vaccines