Human papillomavirus (HPV), and the related, cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN), are common yet poorly understood physical conditions. The diagnosis of HPV often elicits shame and guilt, which in turn may undermine psychological and physical health. The current study compared shame and guilt responses to diagnosis among two groups: women diagnosed with HPV/CIN and women diagnosed with Epstein–Barr Virus (EBV/IM). Eighty women recently diagnosed with HPV/CIN or EBV/IM completed measures of shame- and guilt-proneness, shame and guilt following diagnosis, and disease knowledge including prevalence estimates (HPV and EBV, respectively). HPV/CIN (vs. EBV/IM) predicted more diagnosis-related shame and guilt. Estimates of high prevalence interacted with diagnosis and shame-proneness to predict diagnosis-related shame. Simple slope analyses indicated that in women with HPV/CIN reporting low-to-average shame-proneness, high prevalence estimates reduced diagnosis-related shame; however, women high in shame-proneness experienced high diagnosis-related shame regardless of more accurate prevalence estimates. Women high in shame-proneness appear to be particularly vulnerable to HPV-related shame even when they are aware that it is very common.

Document Type


Publication Date


Notes/Citation Information

Published in Journal of Behavioral Medicine, v. 40, issue 5, p. 814-820.

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

The copyright holder has granted the permission for posting the article here.

This is a post-peer-review, pre-copyedit version of an article published in Journal of Behavioral Medicine. The final authenticated version is available online at: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10865-017-9849-8.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)


Funding Information

This work was supported by grants from the National Institute of Mental Health (T32MH093315; K99MH109667).