PloS one 2018 02 2313(2) e0193363 doi 10.1371/journal.pone.0193363
Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most prevalent sexually transmitted infection worldwide and can lead to the development of genital warts, and cancers throughout the body. Despite the availability of HPV vaccines for over a decade, uptake in the United States among adolescents and young adults remains well below national targets. While most efforts to improve HPV vaccine uptake have rightly focused on adolescents, there is still a tremendous opportunity to improve vaccination among young adults who have not been vaccinated against HPV. To that end, we report an exploratory examination of associations between HPV vaccination status and intentions with psychological traits that may impact HPV vaccine uptake with a national, demographically diverse sample of young adults (N = 1358) who completed an online survey. These psychological traits conceptually mapped onto motivations to: 1) understand health-related information, 2) deliberate, 3) manage uncertainty, and 4) manage threats. We found notable gender differences for the association of these motivations and vaccination status. For women, higher interest in and ability to understand health-related information seemed to distinguish those who reported receiving the HPV vaccine from those who did not. For men, less need to deliberate and greater needs to manage threat and uncertainty seemed to be the distinguishing motives for those who reported receiving the HPV vaccine compared to those who did not. Results for vaccination intentions were less consistent, but there was some evidence to indicate that, regardless of gender, greater health-related information interest and understanding and need to manage uncertainty and threats were associated with increased intention to receive the HPV vaccine, while greater need to deliberate was associated with decreased vaccination intentions. These results suggest that there are psychological differences that are associated with HPV vaccination decisions and that these motivations should be considered in efforts to improve HPV vaccine uptake.