Background: Males play a critical role in HPV transmission, yet lack knowledge on this virus. The Cognitive and Emotional Responses to an HPV Infection in Men (CER) Study has the unique opportunity to assess males’ HPV information-seeking behaviors.
Objectives: Examine HPV information-seeking behaviors among males participating in a broader study designed to understand individuals’ cognitive/emotional responses to an HPV test result.
Methods: Between March 2007 and August 2009, 368 males completed a theory-based computer-assisted survey instrument with questions about information-seeking behaviors post-HPV testing. On average, males were 27.4 years old (SD = 11.7), and 67.4% were white, 16.6% black, and 17.9% Hispanic.
Results: Although 10% (n = 37) reported wanting more information than what they received post-diagnosis, only 4% called the clinic later to ask questions. Of 66 males who reported going to someone with HPV questions, the most commonly reported source was a friend (65%), followed by a nurse practitioner (58%) and partner (48%). Males more often looked elsewhere for information (n = 72); the Internet was the most common source (89%) followed by study pamphlets (58%) and books (33%). Of those who went online, 85% visited a search engine, most commonly Google, and 15% visited a specific website. Common reasons provided for needing more information were that they “thought of additional questions later” (68%), “my partner had questions” (8%), and “the information was confusing” (8%).
Conclusions: The Internet plays an important role in disseminating health information, and research should examine individuals’ searching behaviors and assess the quality of information retrieved. Friends/partners are also significant in information diffusion/discussion and research should attempt to understand these exchanges.
Implications for Programs, Policy, and/or Research: With the possibility of the HPV vaccine being available to males in the near future, greater attention should be paid to providing clear and consistent messages regarding HPV infection.