Media Influence on Human Papillomavirus Vaccine Decision-Making Behavior
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Approximately 79 million people are currently infected with the human papillomavirus (HPV), making it the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI) in the United States. Unlike other STIs, HPV typically goes away on its own within two years of infection. However, some persistent cases can lead to genital warts or various types of cancers. While there is no cure for HPV, two vaccines have been approved to prevent some of the most common strains of the infection. Both vaccines protect against HPV 16 and 18, the two strains that cause the majority of HPV-related cancer. In addition, one vaccine also prevents strains 6 and 11, the two types responsible for 90% of genital warts. After vaccine licensure, each company launched advertising campaigns to promote their product as cervical cancer prevention. In the last few years, advertising has become a significant source of information for key vaccine decision-makers (males and females ages 18-26 and parents of youth ages 11-17). However, little research has been conducted to examine how direct-to-consumer ads frame the HPV vaccine, what audiences learn from them, or how they target underlying beliefs about getting the vaccine. This research sought to contribute to this gap in the literature. Relying on a mixed methods approach, this study examines how direct-to-consumer ads influence parental and adolescent beliefs about HPV and the HPV vaccine through discourse analysis and focus groups. First, discourse analysis was used to examine how eight direct-to-consumer ads frame HPV and the HPV vaccine and in turn how this framing reflects and shapes social norms on this topic. Next, the same ads were shown to focus groups of vaccine decision-makers to measure short-term knowledge change about HPV and the HPV vaccine based on the ads. Focus groups also captured broader reactions to ads. The findings from this research are presented in a series of three manuscripts: the first presents findings from the discourse analysis of the ads; the second examines vaccine decision-maker knowledge change as a result of watching the ads; and the third maps underlying belief constructs to the themes in the discourse analysis and the focus groups.
sexually transmitted infection