American Journal of Public Health
Volume 102, Issue 10 (October 2012)
Emily Z. Kontos is with Harvard School of Public Health, Department of Society, Human Development and Health, Boston, MA. Karen M. Emmons and K. Viswanath are with Harvard School of Public Health, Department of Society, Human Development and Health, and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Medical Oncology, Boston. Elaine Puleo is with University of Massachusetts, Amherst School of Public Health and Health Sciences, Amherst.
Objectives. We examined the association of Internet-related communication inequalities on human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine awareness and infection knowledge. Methods. We drew data from National Cancer Institute’s 2007 Health Information National Trends Survey (n = 7674). We estimated multivariable logistic regression models to assess Internet use and Internet health information seeking on HPV vaccine awareness and infection knowledge. Results. Non-Internet users, compared with general Internet users, had significantly lower odds of being aware of the HPV vaccine (odds ratio [OR] = 0.42; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.34, 0.51) and knowing that HPV causes cervical cancer (OR = 0.70; 95% CI = 0.52, 0.95). Among general health information seekers, non-Internet seekers compared with Internet information seekers exhibit significantly lower odds of HPV vaccine awareness (OR = 0.59; 95% CI = 0.46, 0.75), and of knowing about the link between HPV infection and cervical cancer (OR = 0.79; 95% CI = 0.63, 0.99) and the sexual transmission of HPV (OR = 0.71; 95% CI = 0.57, 0.89). Among cancer information seekers, there were no differences in outcomes between Internet seekers and non-Internet seekers. Conclusions. Use of a communication channel, such as the Internet, whose use is already socially and racially patterned, may widen observed disparities in vaccine completion rates.