When vaccines go viral: an analysis of HPV vaccine coverage on YouTube

Health Commun. 2012;27(5):478-85. doi: 10.1080/10410236.2011.610258. Epub 2011 Oct 27.


This article reports a content analysis of YouTube videos related to the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine. In total, 172 YouTube videos were examined with respect to video sources, tones, and viewer responses. Additionally, coverage of specific content was analyzed through the lens of the Health Belief Model (Rosenstock, 1974) and in terms of two content themes (i.e., conspiracy theory and civil liberties). The relations among these aspects of the videos were assessed as well. We found that most of these videos were news clips or consumer-generated content. The majority of the videos were negative in tone, disapproving of the HPV vaccine. In addition, negative videos were liked more by the viewers than positive or ambiguous ones. Accusations of conspiracy theory and infringement of civil liberties were manifested in these videos. The videos also presented mixed information related to the key determinants of health behavior as stipulated in the Health Belief Model. Implications for the findings are discussed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Consumer Health Information / standards*
  • Health Education
  • Humans
  • Internet*
  • Mass Media
  • Papillomavirus Infections / prevention & control*
  • Papillomavirus Vaccines / administration & dosage*
  • Public Opinion
  • Videotape Recording*


  • Papillomavirus Vaccines