Patients’ religious and cultural backgrounds, and past and current sexual practices may influence human papillomavirus vaccination rates. Addressing these cultural differences may help increase vaccination rates, according to research presented at at the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners 2015 meeting.

Although vaccinating pediatric patients against the human papillomavirus (HPV) could prevent nearly 5.5 million cases of genital warts and 40,000 cancer-related deaths over the next century, “HPV vaccine in vulnerable populations remains low,” wrote Tami L. Thomas, PhD, RN, CPNP, FAANP, FAAN, of Florida International University, and colleagues.

To examine the intersection of supportive social networks, ethnicity, spirituality, religiosity, and risk taking behaviors on knowledge of the HPV and HPV vaccine series completion, the investigators culled data from a cross-sectional survey of 1,769 adolescents living in an urban area in the United States.

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Of the 1,627 patients, aged 18 to 30 years, who completed the entire anonymous survey, the majority (83%) reported networking with friends to receive health promotion information, reported the researchers. More than half (51.8%) reported strong beliefs that a God watches over them. While 58% of the subjects stated that their religion was somewhat to very involved in their understanding or dealing with stressful situations, only 26.1% stated that they attended religious services at least once a month.

Only 38.4% of patients stated that they had begun the HPV vaccine series. Females (84.8%) were more likely to have received the HPV vaccine compared with males (55.7%). While not statistically significant, participants who noted they had received the HPV vaccine also reported that they used condoms without fail at every sexual encounter.


  1. Thomas T et al. “Supportive Social Networks, Ethnicity, Spirituality, Religiosity, Risk Taking Behaviors and Completion of HPV Vaccine Series How pediatric nurse practitioners can improve health outcomes and reduce health disparities in vulnerable populations of adolescents and emerging adults.” Presented at: NAPNAP 2015. March 11-14, 2015; Las Vegas.