A survey of current practices, attitudes, and knowledge regarding human papillomavirus-related cancers and vaccines among head and neck surgeons

JAMA Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2013 Oct;139(10):1037-42. doi: 10.1001/jamaoto.2013.4452.


Importance: Understanding head and neck surgeons' current knowledge, practices, and opinions regarding human papillomavirus (HPV) education and prevention will enable efforts to assist surgeons in this important endeavor.

Objective: To assess knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs of head and neck surgeons regarding HPV education and vaccination.

Design, setting, and participants: Online survey of members of the American Head and Neck Society (AHNS) in late 2011 and early 2012.

Main outcomes and measures: Knowledge, attitudes, and current practices regarding HPV education and vaccination.

Results: All 1081 members of the AHNS were approached via e-mail, and 297 members completed the survey, for an overall response rate of 27.5%. Most respondents were male (86.2%) fellowship-trained head and neck surgeons (80.4%), and most practice in an academic setting (77.1%) in the United States (78.1%). More than 90% of respondents discuss risk factors for head and neck cancer and HPV as a specific risk factor with their patients. However, only 49.1% discuss the importance of vaccinating preadolescents for HPV, most commonly citing that they do not do so because their patients are adults (38.7%). Of those respondents with daughters, 68.9% reported that their daughters had received or they intend their daughters to receive the HPV vaccine. Of those respondents with sons, only 55.8% reported that their sons had been vaccinated or they intend for them to be. Respondents reported divergent attitudes toward HPV vaccination safety and efficacy. However, respondents were overwhelmingly supportive of possible future ANHS activities to educate clinicians, increase public awareness, educate patients, and advocate for health policy related to HPV.

Conclusions and relevance: Head and neck surgeons are knowledgeable about HPV and show generally positive attitudes and beliefs about HPV education and vaccination. They endorse AHNS actions to improve public and patient education, as well as health policy on HPV. These findings support AHNS developing a strategic plan and actions to improve knowledge and reduce HPV infection among the American public.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Cancer Vaccines
  • Child
  • Clinical Competence*
  • Female
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / surgery
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / virology*
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Papillomavirus Infections / pathology
  • Papillomavirus Infections / prevention & control*
  • Papillomavirus Vaccines*
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Patient Selection
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'*
  • Sex Factors
  • Specialties, Surgical*
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / virology


  • Cancer Vaccines
  • Papillomavirus Vaccines