Founded at the Abramson Cancer Center at the University of Pennsylvania

Effectiveness of Messaging on Public Knowledge and Uptake of HPV Testing

The last two decades have seen quite a bit of change around national guidelines for cervical cancer screening, with a steady shift from cytology, or Pap smears, toward an increase of human papillomavirus (HPV) testing, with or without cytology. With HPV testing being more sensitive, it has been positioned as the recommended and even preferred means of screening by the American Cancer Society and United States Preventive Task Force (among others). Until now, however, there has not yet been published evidence regarding public awareness of this form of testing. 

In order to fill this void and examine public screening knowledge and uptake, PC3I Faculty Katharine A. Rendle and team Shannon N. Ogden, Emily A. Leskinen, Elizabeth A. Sarmaand Jocelyn V. Wainwright examined the effects of messaging and message framing on screening knowledge and intention related to HPV testing in a study published in Cancer Prevention Research. 

Participants were randomly assigned to receive messages of two different types regarding cervical cancer screening. Gain-framed messages contained communications on the benefit of preventive care, while the messages with loss-framing focused on the risks of not participating in this care. Pretest and posttest measures evaluated participants’ knowledge of cervical cancer and intentions to be screened using primary HPV testing.  

Across both types of message framing, posttests demonstrated a significant increase regarding participants’ aim to pursue HPV testing and participants’ perceived effectiveness of this form of testing to reduce cervical cancer mortalityThese results establish messaging as a powerful tool in increasing awareness and uptake of primary HPV testing for cervical cancer screening. 

The study, “Effects of Message Framing on Cervical Cancer Screening Knowledge and Intentions Related to Primary HPV Testing,” appeared in Cancer Prevention Research on April 12, 2021.

Katharine A. Rendle, PhD, MSW, MPH, is the Director of Implementation Science and an Innovation Faculty member at the Penn Center for Cancer Care Innovation, as well as the Associate Director of the Mixed-Methods Research Lab and an Assistant Professor of Family Medicine and Community Health and of Epidemiology at the Perelman School of Medicine.  


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