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.


Main Subjects

Volume 21, Issue 12
December 2020
Pages 3595-3603
  • Receive Date: 29 July 2020
  • Revise Date: 12 October 2020
  • Accept Date: 26 November 2020
  • First Publish Date: 01 December 2020