Discussions of adolescent sexuality in news media coverage ofthe HPV vaccine

Dana M. Casciotti, Katherine C. Smith, Amy Tsui, Ann C. Klassen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Given the sexually transmitted nature of human papillomavirus (HPV), some worry the HPV vaccine will create a false sense of security and promote adolescent sexual activity. Media coverage of vaccines can influence social norms, parental attitudes, and vaccine acceptance; in this paper we examine U.S. news media messages related to sexuality and HPV vaccination. Drawing on a structured analysis of 447 articles published during 2005-2009, we qualitatively analyzed a purposive sample of 49 articles discussing adolescent health behaviors related to HPV vaccination. Commonly, articles discussed vaccination in the context of abstinence-only versus comprehensive sexual health education; cited research findings to support vaccination or sex education; argued against connecting vaccination to promiscuous behavior; but included fear-inducing messages. Media messages concerning health behaviors related to HPV vaccination tended to support government and parental involvement in sex education, and dismiss concerns linking vaccination to sexual activity, while also presenting the vaccine as lifesaving.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)133-143
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Adolescence
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2014


  • Health communication
  • News media
  • Sexual activity
  • Vaccination

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Social Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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