A content analysis of HPV vaccination messages available online

William A. Calo, Melissa B. Gilkey, Teri L. Malo, Meagan Robichaud, Noel T. Brewer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Parents have varied HPV vaccine communication needs, which presents a challenge for healthcare providers. To improve communication resources for providers, we sought to characterize HPV vaccination messages available in existing educational materials. In fall 2016, we searched PubMed, educational material clearinghouses, and Google for English language HPV vaccination messages. We extracted messages that a provider might use when raising the topic of HPV vaccination, answering common questions, and motivating vaccination. Two reviewers independently coded each message. The search identified 267 unique messages about HPV vaccination. Messages generally were long (mean no. of words = 44, standard deviation [SD] = 33) and required a high level of education to read (mean reading grade level = 10, SD = 3). Only 32% of messages were shorter than 25 words, and 12% had a readability at or below grade 6. Most frequent were messages to address common parent questions or concerns (62%); the most common topics were diseases prevented by HPV vaccine (18%) and safety and side effects (16%). Many messages included information about cancer prevention (26%) and same-day vaccination (13%). Few messages (6%) used a presumptive style to recommend HPV vaccination. In conclusion, available messages about HPV vaccination were markedly varied. We identified few messages that were both brief (to facilitate providers memorizing them) and accessible (to facilitate parents understanding them). Future research should identify which messages lead to HPV vaccine uptake.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7525-7529
Number of pages5
Issue number49
StatePublished - Nov 26 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Molecular Medicine
  • General Immunology and Microbiology
  • General Veterinary
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Infectious Diseases


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