Understanding how health care provider recommendations and messaging strategies influence HPV vaccine uptake: a study of undergraduate student perspectives

  • Krista Schumacher Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences College of Osteopathic Medicine (OSU-COM)
  • Tracy Freudenthaler
  • Adrianna Elbon



Although human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination reduces infection and HPV-associated cancers, vaccination rates are low. The purpose of this study was to assess the relationship between vaccination status and health care provider recommendation and identify themes in provider messaging.

Using data from a survey of undergraduates, we used cross tabulation and chi-square analysis to examine the relationship between vaccination status and provider recommendation and coded qualitative responses to open-ended items about provider communication and influence.


Vaccination status was significantly associated with provider recommendation. Just under half of vaccinated respondents with a recommendation received information beyond a simple recommendation, and 42% reported providers largely influenced their vaccination decision.


Reduced cancer risk was the most common topic in provider communication. Comments about provider influence suggest messages that convey a favorable opinion of HPV vaccination combined with education about risks associated with infection may positively sway vaccine decisions.

Public Health