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Which primary care practitioners have poor human papillomavirus (HPV) knowledge? A step towards informing the development of professional education initiatives

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Stephan Dombrowski, Dr Jill Francis, Professor Linda Sharp



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© 2018 McSherry et al.This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. Background Primary care practitioners (PCP) play key roles in cervical cancer prevention. Human papillomavirus (HPV) knowledge is an important influence on PCPs' cervical cancer preventionrelated behaviours. We investigated HPV knowledge, and associated factors, among general practitioners (GPs) and practice nurses. Methods A survey, including factual questions about HPV infection and vaccination, was mailed to GPs and practice nurses in Ireland. Multivariable logistic regression was used to determine which PCPs had low knowledge (questions correctly answered: Infection ≤5/11; vaccination: ≤4/10). Questions least often answered correctly were identified. Results 697 PCPs participated. For HPV infection, GPs and practice nurses answered a median of nine and seven questions correctly, respectively (p<0.001). Significantly associated with low HPV infection knowledge were: Being a practice nurse/male GP; working fewer hours/ week; not having public patients; and having never taken a cervical smear. For HPV vaccination, both GPs and practice nurses answered a median of six questions correctly (p = 0.248). Significantly associated with low HPV vaccination knowledge were: Being a practice nurse/male GP; working more years in general practice, fewer hours/week, in a smaller practice or in a practice not specialising in women's health; and having never taken a smear. Six HPV infection questions, and seven HPV vaccination questions, were not answered correctly by > of PCPs. Conclusions There are important limitations in HPV infection and vaccination knowledge among PCPs. By identifying factors associated with poor knowledge, and areas of particular uncertainty, these results can inform development of professional education initiatives thereby ensuring women have access to uniformly high-quality HPV-related information and advice.

Publication metadata

Author(s): McSherry LA, O'Leary E, Dombrowski SU, Francis JJ, Martin CM, O'Leary JJ, Sharp L

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: PLoS ONE

Year: 2018

Volume: 13

Issue: 12

Online publication date: 13/12/2018

Acceptance date: 19/11/2018

Date deposited: 04/01/2019

ISSN (electronic): 1932-6203

Publisher: Public Library of Science


DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0208482


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