Knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs about human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination among Puerto Rican mothers and daughters, 2010: A qualitative study

María E. Fernández, Yen Chi L. Le, Natalie Fernández-Espada, William A. Calo, Lara S. Savas, Camille Vélez, Angela Pattatucci Aragon, Vivian Colón-López

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

15 Scopus citations


Introduction: The incidence of human papillomavirus (HPV) infection and cervical cancer can be reduced by increasing vaccination for HPV. Yet vaccination uptake and completion of the 3-dose series remain low among Puerto Rican females. This study explored psychosocial factors associated with HPV vaccination uptake decisions among Puerto Rican mothers and daughters. Methods: We conducted 7 focus groups with young women aged 16 to 24 (n = 21) and their mothers (n = 9) to assess knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs related to cervical cancer, HPV, and HPV vaccination. We analyzed the focus group transcripts and identified themes by using a constant comparison method of qualitative data analysis and interpretation, guided by a grounded theory approach. Results: The analysis identified several emergent themes related to vaccine uptake: 1) low knowledge about cervical cancer, HPV, and the HPV vaccine; 2) inconsistent beliefs about susceptibility to HPV infection and cervical cancer; 3) vaccine effectiveness; 4) vaccine safety and side effects; 5) concerns that the vaccine promotes sexual disinhibition; and 6) availability of insurance coverage and overall cost of the vaccine. Conclusion: Our study found that adolescent girls and young women in Puerto Rico have low levels of knowledge about HPV and cervical cancer, low perceived susceptibility to HPV, and concerns about the safety and efficacy of the vaccine, and these factors may influence uptake and completion of HPV vaccination. Interventions are needed for both mothers and daughters that address these psychosocial factors and increase access to vaccination.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberE212
JournalPreventing Chronic Disease
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2014


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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