Document Type: Research Articles
Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
Background: One of the most important aetiologies of cervical cancer is Human Papillomavirus (HPV) infection. While vaccination is an effective way in preventing high risk HPV infection, HPV vaccine uptake rate in Hong Kong has been low. Considering the proven effectiveness of HPV vaccination and the low vaccination uptake rate in Hong Kong, this study was conducted to compare the knowledge, attitude and practice towards HPV vaccination for cervical cancer prevention between medical and non-medical students in the University of Hong Kong. Methods: A total of 420 full time undergraduates from the University of Hong Kong were recruited and evaluated. Questionnaires covering demographics, sexual risk profile, knowledge, attitude and practice towards HPV vaccination were applied, with the Chi-square test analysis. Results: Medical students had more comprehensive knowledge than their non-medical counterparts on HPV vaccination, including the carcinogenicity of HPV (P<0.001), available vaccines on the market (P<0.001) and the outcome of vaccination (P<0.001). In particular, senior medical students (Year 3 or above) were shown to be more knowledgeable than their juniors (below Year 3) with statistical significance (P<0.001). Positive attitudes toward HPV vaccination were observed more frequently among medical students when compared to non-medical students, especially regarding the usefulness of HPV vaccination in males (P<0.001). However, there was no significant difference in the vaccination rate between medical and non-medical students (P=0.671), suggesting an importance for factors other than knowledge, such as cost of vaccination and anxiety of side effects. Conclusions: Medical students in Hong Kong, especially those in senior years, had more comprehensive knowledge and positive attitudes towards HPV vaccination than non-medical students. Yet, there was no significant difference in the practice of HPV vaccination between medical and non-medical students. In addition to medical education, other factors such as health beliefs, risk perception and financial considerations, may have a role in determining HPV vaccination for cervical cancer prevention.