College Males’ Enduring and Novel Health Beliefs about the HPV Vaccine

Margaret Jane Pitts, Samantha J. Stanley, Sara Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


College males represent an important and overlooked catch-up population in the pursuit of human papillomavirus (HPV) prevention. An in-depth understanding of college males’ health beliefs about HPV and HPV prevention can guide the development of HPV health promotion messages targeted toward college males. We convened 9 focus groups among 84 college-aged males to discuss their perceptions of benefits and barriers toward HPV prevention 4 years after vaccine approval. Through participants’ discourse, we identified health beliefs that continue to endure as barriers to HPV prevention (e.g., lack of knowledge/awareness, apathy, dismissiveness, stigma, practical barriers, and skepticism). Prevention and protection endure as perceived benefits to HPV prevention. We also identified novel college male health beliefs that have emerged since vaccine approval and hold great potential for the development of more effective health messaging. One novel barrier that emerged was the perception that it was “too late” for college males to benefit from the vaccine. Several novel benefits also emerged including a perception of wider social benefit beyond the self and partner, reduced worry and anticipated regret, and the belief that “there is no reason not to [vaccinate].” This study was guided by the health belief model (HBM) and implications are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)995-1003
Number of pages9
JournalHealth Communication
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 3 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Communication


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