Religiosity and Perceptions of HPV Vaccine Safety

Conner Deichman, Caitlin Kreutz, Leini Jenkins, Wendy Birmingham, Psychology Department, Brigham Young University, 1054 SWKT, Provo, 84602

Background: Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States among adults aged 18-59 and contributes to cancers in both men and women. HPV vaccination can reduce risk but only if children, youth, and young adults get vaccinated. The vaccine has been shown to be effective and safe, yet has been met with controversy and skepticism, especially by those who identify as highly religious who may view the vaccine as condoning early sexual behavior. While religiosity is not associated with anti-vaccination beliefs, those who are highly religious may not be as informed about HPV and HPV vaccination and thus, due to a lack of knowledge, be unaware of the safety of the vaccine. 

Hypothesis: Individuals with higher religiosity will have an increased likelihood of viewing the HPV vaccine as unsafe.

Methods: 75 parents who had not vaccinated their children for HPV were surveyed to gage their perceptions of  HPV vaccine and their level of religious affiliation. Participants reported their main reason for not vaccinating their child. Those who selected “it might be unsafe” were coded as 1; all others were coded as 0. Religiosity was measured with the Religious Commitment Inventory. A logistic regression was conducted to determine if higher religiosity was associated with belief of HPV vaccine safety. 

Results: Analysis showed religiosity was not associated with perceptions of HPV vaccine safety (p = .08). 

Conclusion: Though research shows highly religious individuals are less informed about the HPV vaccine, our data suggests that highly religious individuals who choose not to vaccinate their children may do so based on reasoning other than safety of the vaccine . However, results may be limited by the restricted sample size. Future studies may benefit by gathering data from a larger population.  

Additional Abstract Information

Presenters: Conner Deichman, Caitlin Kreutz, Leini Jenkins, Tyler Graff, Shelby Seipert

Institution: Brigham Young University Provo Campus

Type: Poster

Subject: Psychology

Status: Approved

Time and Location

Session: Poster 11
Date/Time: Wed 3:00pm-4:00pm
Session Number: 7076