Students' Knowledge Regarding the Dynamics of HPV at Secular and Christian Colleges

Joann Timberlake
Sarah Mayer
Stephanie Callister
Sheri Cook
Kim Hamilton


Purpose: No studies have been identified that analyze the association between religious affiliation and college students' awareness of human papillomavirus (HPV) and its possible consequences. The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship between knowledge of HPV and the type of college (Christian or secular) a student attends. Methods: The study sample included 195 college students, 18 years of age or older, attending either La Sierra University, Loma Linda University, San Bernardino Valley College, or University of La Verne. The survey assessed six areas of know ledge of HPV including general know ledge, natural history and symptoms, risk and transmission, sequelae and consequences, the role of Pap smears and viral detection, and treatment of HPV. The survey consisted of 31 questions with response categories based on a five-point Likert scale. Results: Forty percent of the students were Seventh-day Adventist, 23% were nondenominational Christians, and 17% were Catholics. Only 29% of the respondents indicated they knew how HPV is transmitted and only 23% of the students were familiar with the risk factors of contracting HPV. The majority of college students are poorly educated about the risk factors and routes of transmission of HPV. Forty-five percent of students surveyed were not aware that HPV can be transmitted through sexual contact. Students attending Christian colleges had more knowledge regarding HPV than students at secular colleges (p=.02). Conclusion: Results of this study indicated a significant lack of knowledge among college students regarding the risks of transmission of HPV, the relationship between Pap smears and cervical cancer, and the consequences of HPV.