Date of Conferral





Public Health


Frazier B. Beatty


Cervical cancer incidence in the United States has declined for the past 40 years, yet the odds of developing cervical cancer is much higher among marginalized women, particularly African American and Hispanic American women. Although preventable through vaccination against the human papillomavirus (HPV) prior to infection, uptake and completion rates of the vaccine among African American and Hispanic American women are low. The purpose of the study was to determine if a significant relationship existed between the health literacy levels of African American and Hispanic American women, ages 18-26, and the low HPV vaccination uptake. The integrated behavioral model, which identifies factors antecedent to behavioral intention, as well as the motivating variables, was the theoretical framework. Secondary data from the 2015 National Health Interview Survey were used to examine the relationships among the variables of interest. A logistic regression (n = 2093) showed that health literacy is a strong determinant of HPV vaccine behavior intention, and that there was a significant relationship between health literacy and HPV vaccine initiation. Health literacy mediated the relationships between the motivating variables and the vaccine uptake, and completely mediated the relationship between ethnicity and HPV vaccine uptake. Health literacy did not independently predict the vaccine initiation. The findings from this study might (a) provide public health practitioners with enough information to guide health promotion activities to increase the vaccination coverage to the level expected in Healthy People 2020, (b) save economic resources through cancer prevention, and (c) improve lives by curbing the excess deaths among racial minority women.

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