The HPV vaccine: a content analysis of online news stories

CyberMind Research

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The HPV vaccine: a content analysis of online news stories.
J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2009 Mar;18(3):401-7
Authors: Habel MA, Liddon N, Stryker JE
PURPOSE: Approximately 73 million adults in the United States report using the Internet as a source for health information. This study examines the quality, content, and scope of human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine Internet news coverage starting on the day of its licensure. Information about the HPV vaccine in the media may influence personal attitudes and vaccine uptake.

METHODS: Using four search engines and six search terms, a sample of 250 Internet articles on the HPV vaccine were identified between June 8, 2006, and September 26, 2006. The coding instrument captured how the headline was depicted and how the vaccine was labeled in addition to information about HPV, cervical cancer, the HPV vaccine, and current social issues and concerns about the vaccine.

RESULTS: Analysis revealed balanced Internet news coverage; 52.4% of Internet news stories were coded as neutral toward the vaccine. Eighty-eight percent of articles labeled the vaccine as a cervical cancer vaccine; 73.5% explained the link between HPV and cervical cancer, although without providing background information on HPV or cervical cancer. Vaccine affordability was the most cited social concern (49.2%). Information about vaccine safety and side effects, duration of vaccine protection, and availability of the catchup vaccine for females aged 13-26 was repeatedly missing.

CONCLUSIONS: The HPV vaccine is being marketed as a vaccine to prevent cervical cancer. Comprehensive information on the vaccine, HPV, and cervical cancer continues to be missing from media coverage. Public health educators should monitor online media in an effort to respond to inaccurate information. Barriers to vaccine cost and funding mechanisms need to be addressed more effectively by states. Knowledge of particular media messages could provide a starting point for tackling opposition and uptake issues for future sexually transmitted infection (STI) vaccines.
PMID: 19281323 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

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Author: Leslie Carol Botha

Author, publisher, radio talk show host and internationally recognized expert on women's hormone cycles. Social/political activist on Gardasil the HPV vaccine for adolescent girls. Co-author of "Understanding Your Mood, Mind and Hormone Cycle." Honorary advisory board member for the Foundation for the Study of Cycles and member of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research.