Introduction: The recent development of a vaccine that is highly effective against the human papillomavirus (HPV) has been met with widespread clinical and public health professional acceptance. However, social and societal barriers to vaccination may hamper public health efforts to prevent HPV-mediated diseases. Although a few studies have evaluated knowledge or awareness of HPV vaccination among dentists or dental educators, few studies have evaluated the acceptance, knowledge and awareness of HPV vaccination among dental students and post-graduate dental residents. The primary goal of this study is to evaluate survey responses regarding acceptance, knowledge and awareness of HPV vaccination among dental students and post-graduate dental residents.
Methods: This study was a retrospective analysis of a previously administered and collected questionnaire. The original protocol was reviewed by the UNLV Biomedical Institutional Research Board (IRB) and was deemed excluded from IRB review (OPRS#0811-2911).
Results: Two hundred and ninety-three (N = 293) dental student and forty-one (N = 41) post-graduate dental resident questionnaires were available for a total sample size of N = 334. In brief, although the majority of dental students and residents agreed that vaccines are safe and effective, less than half of dental students (37.5%) or dental residents (48.7%) had discussed the HPV vaccine with a physician or had received the vaccine themselves. In addition, a significant percentage of dental students and residents felt they did not have enough information regarding the HPV vaccine (25.6% and 26.8%, respectively) or had significant concerns about the side effects (17.1%).
Conclusions: The data suggest more specific information in dental school microbiology and immunology courses might be needed to increase awareness and knowledge of the safety and effectiveness of vaccines, including the HPV vaccine. This enhanced education might also serve as a curricular focal point to answer questions regarding vaccine-related side effects and provide a mechanism for answering important questions regarding this vaccine.
Keywords: dental student; human papillomavirus (HPV); post-graduate dental resident; vaccination.