HPV Information and Message Barriers Reported among American Indian College Students
Background and Purpose: American Indians (AI) are reported to have high human papillomavirus (HPV) infection rates. This study explores communication pathways among AI college students reporting sources and influences of HPV information. Methods: Eight focus groups with 53 AI students were conducted at four Southwest universities. Questions probed HPV knowledge and attitudes, health beliefs, cultural influences, message barriers, and communication pathways. Data was analyzed using Grounded Theory methods. Results: Schools and television commercials were common information sources; less frequently mentioned were parents and the tribal community. Preferred communication pathways were siblings, relatives and physicians. Barriers to communication included lack of information sources, stigma, traditional viewpoints limiting discussions related to sexuality, and under-representation of AIs in health media. Sources of HPV information and preferences for communication pathways influences and perceived receptiveness of various channels were identified. Conclusion: Education and health messages must take into account AI cultural perspectives, as well as informational and communication preferences. Strategies to reduce information/ communication gaps include improving inter-family communication and facilitating school-based, clinic-based and tribal community health events about protecting sexual and reproductive health. Message barriers must be addressed to reduce HPV-related morbidity and mortality.