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Arch Hellen Med, 32(2), March-April 2015, 202-209


Preventive vaccines for human papillomavirus:
The knowledge and compliance of health sciences students

C.M. Dafermou, C. Tsoumakas, I. Pavlopoulou
Faculty of Nursing, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Athens, Greece

OBJECTIVE Cervical cancer is a disease that affects large numbers of the female population and the human papillomavirus (HPV) is mainly responsible. The aim of this study was to investigate the knowledge of nursing students about HPV virus and the available HPV vaccines.

METHOD The study population consisted of undergraduate (U) and postgraduate (P) students of the Faculty of Nursing of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens. The participants were asked to answer a specially designed, anonymous questionnaire concerning their knowledge of cervical cancer, HPV and its preventive vaccines, and their own compliance with vaccination. The questionnaires were distributed multiple times during their theoretical lectures. The time given for completion was 10–15 minutes before the start of the lecture or during the break. All ethical requirements were fulfilled, as provided by legislation on the distribution of questionnaires.

RESULTS A total of 1,000 questionnaires were distributed (U=800, P=200), of which 490 were returned completed. Analysis of the data showed that a significant percentage of students knew the causal relationship between the HPV virus and cervical cancer (93.4%). In addition, 95.3% were aware of the preventive vaccines and 19.6% had been vaccinated. Of those who had not been vaccinated 50.0% would be willing to be vaccinated and 50.0% were reluctant. The main reason for refusal of vaccination was the fear of side effects (67.8%), while the main influence for vaccination was that of gynecologists (68.2%). The results showed that the level of knowledge of students was quite high about both HPV and vaccines, but the sample appeared divided against vaccination.

CONCLUSIONS A significant percentage of nursing students are well informed about cervical cancer, the role of the HPV virus and the preventive HPV vaccines, but their compliance with vaccination is low and this appears to be associated with a fear of side effects. Continuous, accurate information from the state and health care providers is needed to overcome the reservations of students about vaccination.

Key words: Cervical cancer, Compliance, HPV virus, Knowledge, Preventive vaccines.

© Archives of Hellenic Medicine