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Keywords:

  • HPV;
  • cervical cancer;
  • Pap smear;
  • ASC-US;
  • health belief model

Abstract

Purpose: The purpose of the study was to assess knowledge of, perceived susceptibility to, perceived seriousness of, and risk behaviors regarding human papillomavirus (HPV) and cervical cancer among female nursing students.

Data sources: A 40-item survey of HPV and cervical cancer was distributed to a convenience sample of 240 female nursing students enrolled in a baccalaureate nursing program.

Conclusions: Female nursing students participate in high-risk sexual behaviors and have a fairly low knowledge level, low perceived susceptibility, and low perceived seriousness regarding HPV and cervical cancer. Knowledge and perceived susceptibility were positively related to number of sexual partners. This may indicate that the women who engage in riskier behavior are more knowledgeable about HPV and their risk of contracting the disease.

Implications for practice: Results indicate that all practitioners involved in the care of women should educate them about HPV and its relationship to cervical cancer. Education should include the need to use condoms to prevent HPV and other sexually transmitted diseases.