Newswise — Latina and Vietnamese women are disproportionately impacted by cervical cancer-causing human papillomavirus (HPV), a common but preventable viral infection of the reproductive tract. In addition to facing a greater burden of disease, Latina and Vietnamese women are also known to underutilize the HPV vaccine, which is an effective cervical cancer prevention measure.

A University of California, Irvine-led study, based on interviews of 50 Latina and Vietnamese women, revealed that this population turns to many sources for information about the HPV vaccine – from online and social media to school health classes, mothers, and doctors.

Furthermore, when reading this information, many cited privacy, avoiding information overload, and receiving information from trusted sources as important to their overall understanding of preventative measures against contracting HPV. Information access, convenience, and credibility were also key motivating factors for many of the women interviewed.

Findings from this study are published in the Journal of Primary Prevention. 

“We set out to understand and identify the different sources that people go to for critical health information, which we believe is key in determining the types of interventions suitable for hard-to-reach populations,” said Suellen Hopfer, PhD, assistant professor at UCI Public Health and corresponding author on the study. “Recognizing that patterns in information consumption are ever-changing among young adults, we needed to get a better understanding of where Latina and Vietnamese women were seeking HPV vaccine information.”

This study advances literature on cervical cancer prevention by calling attention to platform delivery considerations that public health researchers and practitioners should undertake when attempting to reach vulnerable populations. Results from the study illustrate the need for interventions to use trusted sources and consistent messaging as they deliver critical health information, certainly in the case of HPV prevention but in all other areas of research as well. 

Co-authors included UCI Public Health doctoral students Huong T. Duong and Samantha Garcia, as well as professor of epidemiology and biostatistics Sora Park Tanjasiri, MPH, DrPH. 

Journal Link: Journal of Primary Prevention