The HPV vaccine is recommended for all adolescents starting at age 11, but coverage is low, especially in the young adult population. The CDC is prioritizing catch-up vaccination and has expanded recommendations for all young adults to age 26. College students may be ideal targets for HPV vaccine interventions as they typically have on-site clinics that offer prevention services and students are in the position to make decisions about their own healthcare. We examined the risk perceptions of 101 HPV vaccine-naïve college students, both in terms of risk cognition (beliefs about susceptibility to HPV-related cancers and genital warts) and affect (worry and fear regarding HPV-related health outcomes) as they relate to HPV vaccine intentions. Participants completed an online survey, reporting absolute and comparative risk perceptions for HPV-related cancers/genital warts, fear and worry related to getting HPV-related cancer and/or genital warts, desire for positive emotions, affective associations with the HPV vaccine, and intentions to get the HPV vaccine. More fear/worry about vaccination was directly associated with increased vaccine intentions. The perceived risk to intentions relation included an indirect effect via fear/worry. Desire for positive affect strengthened this relation. Positive affective associations with the HPV vaccine were also related to increased vaccine intentions. Given the public health impact of increasing HPV vaccine coverage for young adults, educational strategies framing the HPV vaccine positively while decreasing fear/worry related to negative health outcomes might increase interest in on-campus catch-up vaccination.

Document Type


Publication Date


Notes/Citation Information

Published in Preventive Medicine Reports, v. 20, 101195.

© 2020 The Author(s)

This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/BY-NC-ND/4.0/).

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)


Funding Information

Marc Diamond Research Foundation, University at Buffalo, SUNY

1-s2.0-S2211335520301546-mmc1.pdf (90 kB)
Supplementary data 1