Contribution of communication inequalities to disparities in human papillomavirus vaccine awareness and knowledge

Am J Public Health. 2012 Oct;102(10):1911-20. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2011.300435. Epub 2012 Feb 16.


Objectives: We examined the association of Internet-related communication inequalities on human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine awareness and infection knowledge.

Methods: We drew data from National Cancer Institute's 2007 Health Information National Trends Survey (n = 7674). We estimated multivariable logistic regression models to assess Internet use and Internet health information seeking on HPV vaccine awareness and infection knowledge.

Results: Non-Internet users, compared with general Internet users, had significantly lower odds of being aware of the HPV vaccine (odds ratio [OR] = 0.42; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.34, 0.51) and knowing that HPV causes cervical cancer (OR = 0.70; 95% CI = 0.52, 0.95). Among general health information seekers, non-Internet seekers compared with Internet information seekers exhibit significantly lower odds of HPV vaccine awareness (OR = 0.59; 95% CI = 0.46, 0.75), and of knowing about the link between HPV infection and cervical cancer (OR = 0.79; 95% CI = 0.63, 0.99) and the sexual transmission of HPV (OR = 0.71; 95% CI = 0.57, 0.89). Among cancer information seekers, there were no differences in outcomes between Internet seekers and non-Internet seekers.

Conclusions: Use of a communication channel, such as the Internet, whose use is already socially and racially patterned, may widen observed disparities in vaccine completion rates.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Communication*
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice* / ethnology
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Internet*
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Odds Ratio
  • Papillomavirus Infections / prevention & control
  • Papillomavirus Vaccines / therapeutic use*
  • United States
  • Young Adult


  • Papillomavirus Vaccines