The importance of social norms for uptake of catch-up human papillomavirus vaccination in young women

Sex Health. 2011 Sep;8(3):330-7. doi: 10.1071/SH10155.


Background: Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the cause of almost all cases of cervical cancer. The current UK government immunisation program includes free routine HPV vaccination of girls aged 12-13, with a catch-up vaccination program for 13-18-year-old girls. The aim of this study was to identify correlates of intended and actual uptake of catch-up HPV vaccination.

Methods: An online questionnaire was completed by 591 young women aged 16-20.

Results: Of the 350 women who had been offered catch-up HPV vaccination, 90.6% had accepted. In multivariate analyses, vaccine uptake was significantly correlated with subjective norms more supportive of HPV vaccination, and greater uptake of other childhood vaccinations (χ²(3))=39.34, P<0.01; 91.1% correctly classified; Nagelkerke pseudo-r²=0.23). Among the 241 women aged 16-20 who had not been offered HPV vaccination, the average intention was 3.70 on a five-point scale. Multivariate analyses revealed four significant independent predictors of stronger intentions to accept vaccination: subjective norms more supportive of HPV vaccination, greater worry about sexually transmissible infections, greater support for young people's sexual health services and greater support for childhood vaccination (F((4,236))=18.67, P<0.01; adjusted r²=0.23). Young women rated television advertisements, educational programs and television soaps as the most effective ways to encourage uptake of HPV vaccination.

Conclusions: Uptake of HPV vaccination may be increased if interventions use appropriate media to promote social norms supportive of HPV vaccination.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Female
  • Forecasting
  • Health Education / trends
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Papillomavirus Infections / prevention & control*
  • Papillomavirus Vaccines / administration & dosage*
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Social Values*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United Kingdom
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Young Adult


  • Papillomavirus Vaccines