Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department

Community and Family Health

Major Professor

Ellen Daley, Ph.D.

Committee Member

William Sappenfield, M.D.

Committee Member

Diane Straub, M.D.

Committee Member

Cheryl Vamos, Ph.D.


Human papillomavirus vaccination, women’s health


Background: The HPV vaccine is a primary prevention method available to reduce the burden of HPV-related cancers and genital warts. The vaccine is currently approved for catch-up vaccination among women 18 to 26 years of age. Despite this recommendation, the rate of vaccine uptake among this group is considerably low (~34% uptake). One demographic characteristic that is consistently reported as a risk factor for non-vaccination is relationship status, specifically married or monogamous relationships. While the epidemiological data confirm this association, there is a lack of understanding how this risk factor operates. By elucidating the mechanism for this risk factor, HPV vaccine uptake among this consistently unvaccinated group could be improved.

Purpose: The purpose of this study was to understand how young adult women’s relationship status influence informational needs, motivations, and behavioral skills related to HPV vaccination. This objective was achieved through the following specific aims: (1) assess how relationship status affects primary reasons for non-vaccination among 18 to 26 year old women; and (2) understand how relationship status frames HPV vaccine decision-making among 18 to 26 year old women.

Methods: To effectively achieve these specific aims, a concurrent mixed-methods study design was conducted. In Phase I, a secondary data analysis using the 2010 National Health Interview Survey was employed to determine if women in relationships are less likely to be interested in vaccination and identify the primary reasons (e.g., misinformation, motivations, behavioral skills) for non-vaccination among different relationship status categories. In Phase II, in-depth interviews were conducted with a sample (N=50) of 18 to 26 year old women at the University of South Florida, stratified by relationship status and vaccination status. A comparative thematic analysis was conducted to determine if there were differences in informational needs, motivations, behavioral skills, and HPV vaccine decision-making between the groups.

Results: Using NHIS 2010 data, women who were living with a partner (PR 1.44 95%CI 1.07-1.87) and never married (PR 1.41 95%CI 1.12-1.73) were less likely to be interested in HPV vaccination compared women who were married. Moreover, primary reasons for non-vaccination differed significantly by relationship status group (p

Conclusion: This study found that relationship status impacts HPV vaccine decision-making among young adult women. Specifically, it operates by modifying risk perceptions for HPV, which serve as barriers to vaccination. Young adult women have the knowledge and behavioral skills necessary to access and understand the importance of HPV vaccination; however, women were unable to accurately perceive their risk for HPV, resulting in impaired motivation for vaccination. A potential approach to address this issue is the use of health literacy. Future research should integrate health literacy techniques with healthcare providers serving this population to assist in the evaluation process for risk of HPV. This will facilitate shared decision-making and patient-provider communication surrounding the HPV vaccine. This can ultimately promote HPV vaccination among young adult women and reduce the morbidity and mortality of HPV-related diseases.

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