• human papillomavirus;
  • HPV;
  • cervical cancer;
  • health beliefs;
  • preventative practices


Objective: To explore knowledge of Human Papillomavirus (HPV) and cervical cancer, health beliefs, and preventative practices in women 40 to 70 years.

Design: Cross-sectional descriptive.

Setting: Three urban ambulatory Obstetrics and Gynecology offices connected with a teaching hospital's Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology in the Mid-Atlantic section of the United States.

Participants: A convenience sample of 149 women age 40 to 70.

Methods: To assess HPV and cervical cancer knowledge, health beliefs, and preventative practices a self-administered survey, the Awareness of HPV and Cervical Cancer Questionnaire was distributed to women as they waited for their well-woman gynecologic exam.

Results: The mean knowledge score was 7.39 (SD=3.42) out of 15. One third of the questions about the relationship of HPV and risks for cervical cancer were answered incorrectly by more than 75% of these women. Although most appreciate the seriousness of cervical cancer, they believed themselves not particularly susceptible.

Conclusion: There is a need for HPV and cervical cancer awareness and education for women older than age 40. Women's health care professionals are well positioned to act as a catalyst to improve HPV and cervical cancer knowledge, health beliefs, and preventative practice to ensure optimum health promotion for all women.