Dr. Google: what about the human papillomavirus vaccine?

Hum Vaccin Immunother. 2013 Aug;9(8):1712-9. doi: 10.4161/hv.25057. Epub 2013 Jun 6.


Objectives: To assess and analyze the information and recommendations provided by Google Web Search™ (Google) in relation to web searches on the HPV vaccine, indications for females and males and possible adverse effects.

Results: In the comprehensive analysis of results, 72.2% of websites offer information favorable to HPV vaccination, with varying degrees of content detail, vs. 27.8% with highly dissuasive content in relation to HPV vaccination. The most frequent type of site is the blog or forum. The information found is frequently incomplete, poorly structured, and often lacking in updates, bibliography and adequate citations, as well as sound credibility criteria (scientific association accreditation and/or trust mark system).

Materials and methods: Descriptive cross-sectional study of the results of 14 web searches. Comprehensive analysis of results based on general recommendation given (favorable/dissuasive), as well as compliance with pre-established criteria, namely design, content and credibility. Sub-analysis of results according to site category: general information, blog / forum and press.

Conclusions: Google, as a tool which users employ to locate medical information and advice, is not specialized in providing information that is necessarily rigorous or valid from a scientific perspective. Search results and ranking based on Google's generalized algorithms can lead users to poorly grounded opinions and statements, which may impact HPV vaccination perception and subsequent decision making.

Keywords: Google; HPV; HPV vaccination; human papillomavirus; internet.

MeSH terms

  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Education / methods
  • Humans
  • Information Dissemination / methods*
  • Internet*
  • Male
  • Papillomavirus Infections / complications
  • Papillomavirus Infections / epidemiology
  • Papillomavirus Infections / prevention & control*
  • Papillomavirus Vaccines / immunology*
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / etiology
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / prevention & control*


  • Papillomavirus Vaccines