INTRODUCTION: Few studies have assessed barriers to human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination uptake and adherence, particularly among women of Appalachian Kentucky, a population with higher rates of cervical cancer, lower rates of HPV vaccination, and lower socioeconomic status compared with the rest of the nation. The objective of this study was to address women's reasons for declining the HPV vaccine and, among women who initiated the vaccine series, barriers to completion of the 3-dose regimen.

METHODS: We recruited 17 women aged 18 to 26 from a Federally Qualified Health Center who participated in in-depth, semistructured telephone interviews. All interviews were audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim; analysis of the interview transcripts was an iterative process conducted by all 3 authors.

RESULTS: We identified 3 primary barriers: 1) a knowledge gap wherein women are both uninformed and misinformed about cervical cancer, HPV, and the HPV vaccine, all of which affect vaccination behaviors; 2) environmental and tangible barriers (transportation and prioritizing health over other responsibilities such as child care, work, and school); and 3) ambiguous information sources, which contribute to misinformation and subsequently affect vaccination decisions.

CONCLUSION: Health professionals should use clear and purposeful communication about how cervical cancer develops, the purpose and safety of the HPV vaccine, and the necessity of completing the 3-dose series. Health promotion campaigns and services tailored for young women in Appalachian Kentucky that focus on increasing knowledge and eliminating barriers are needed.

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Published in Preventing Chronic Disease, v. 10, p. 1-8.

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