Knowledge of Human Papillomavirus (HPV) and Oropharyngeal Cancer and Acceptability of the HPV Vaccine among Dental Students

Document Type : Research Articles


1 Department of Dental Public Health, Faculty of Dentistry, King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah, King Saudi Arabia.

2 Faculty of Medicine, King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah, King Saudi Arabia.

3 Department of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah, King Saudi Arabia.


Objectives: To assess knowledge about human papillomavirus (HPV), vaccination, and HPV-related oropharyngeal cancer (OPC) and to evaluate HPV vaccine acceptability among a sample of undergraduate dental students. Methods: All third- and fourth-year dental students enrolled in any of the dental schools in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, were invited to participate in this cross-sectional study. In total, 500 students completed a self-administered questionnaire on HPV, HPV vaccines, and HPV-related OPC knowledge. HPV, HPV vaccine and HPV-related OPC knowledge scores were calculated. Associations of participants characteristics with the knowledge scores and with willingness to take the HPV vaccine were assessed. Results: Of the participants, 62% had heard of HPV infections, and 57% of HPV vaccines. Average knowledge scores were low: HPV knowledge score 3.8±4.5 out of 16, HPV vaccination knowledge score 0.9±1.6 out of 7, OPC knowledge score 0.9±1.2 out of 5. Clinical-year students had better knowledge and were more willing to take the HPV vaccine than were preclinical-year students, as were those vaccinated for hepatitis B versus those not vaccinated for hepatitis B. Students with higher HPV knowledge scores were more willing to take the HPV vaccine (66%) than were those with lower scores (43%) (p=0.018). Only 4% of males and 12% of females reported taking the HPV vaccine. Of those who refused it, 51% cited lack of knowledge as the primary reason. Conclusions: Knowledge about HPV, its vaccine, and HPV-related OPC is low among this sample of Saudi undergraduate dental students. Improving knowledge among them may increase their awareness, which could affect the care provided to patients.


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