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Increasing Knowledge About HPV and the HPV Vaccine Amongst Adolescents and Adults Through a School-Based Setting: A Capstone Project

Infection with human papillomavirus (HPV), the sexually transmitted virus that causes cervical and other types of cancer, can be prevented. A safe and effective vaccine has been approved for both boys and girls. Despite this recommendation and alarming rates of HPV-associated cancers, vaccination rates among adolescents in the United States are low. A capstone project was implemented to target students and parents of students who attend Holyoke High School and William J. Dean Vocational Technical High (Dean Tech) in Holyoke, Massachusetts. The goals of the project were to improve knowledge about HPV and the HPV vaccine in students and parents, to increase the number of parents of adolescents who intend to vaccinate their children against HPV, and to increase the number of adolescents who intend to receive the HPV vaccine. The project was based on the theoretical framework of the Health Belief Model. Students in ninth grade health classes at both schools were taught content about HPV and why they should receive the HPV vaccine. An informational handout was sent home with all ninth grade students at the schools and reminded them that the school-based health center (SBHC) had the HPV vaccine available. Outreach to parents was done at two community events. The research translation method that was used for this project is an educational intervention that utilized the Plan-Do-Study-Act (PDSA) model. Evaluation of this project was done with a pre-test post-test design with the ninth grade students. The results showed an increase in knowledge and increase in intent among the students to get vaccinated against HPV. No formal data was gathered from the parents. Knowledge gained from this capstone project should encourage nurses to continue educating adolescents and their parents about the HPV vaccine and showed that SBHCs are a promising site to increase HPV vaccination rates.