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Determinants of Human Papilloma virus (HPV) vaccination for cancer prevention

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  • Full or part time
    Dr A Mason Jones
    Prof R Newton
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Project Description

The purpose of the studentship is to explore the determinants for uptake of the HPV vaccination programme in the UK and Uganda. We would like to know more about the barriers and facilitators to HPV vaccine uptake, initiation and completion among young people aged 14-18 years including differences of opinion between parents/guardians and young people and potential changes in risk-related behaviours. We would also like to find out more about differences in attitudes towards HPV vaccination between Uganda and the UK.

The studentship would suit candidates qualified in public health, epidemiology, sexual health and/or paediatrics. The student will have a background in mixed methods with a strong interest and experience in global health issues. A range of methods will be used that will require skills in evidence synthesis, and quantitative and qualitative research. This studentship provides a unique opportunity to help shape a major global health research programme conducting high profile public health research in the African region. The successful candidate would have the opportunity to spend time at the Medical Research Council Uganda Virus Research Institute (MRC/UVRI) Unit Uganda and should be willing and able to do so.

This studentship is a collaboration between the Public Health and Society and Epidemiology and Cancer Statistics research group and combines the skills and expertise of both groups. The vaccination programme for human papilloma virus (HPV) was introduced for girls 12-13 years in September 2008 in the UK, initially using the bivalent vaccine Cervarix. The vaccine, Gardasil was introduced from September 2012 and protects against four strains of HPV (HPV16, HPV18, HPV6 and HPV11) and is currently being given as a two-dose schedule in schools as part of the healthy child programme for girls aged 11-14 years. The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has recently agreed that it will also be introduced for boys.

In Uganda, following the success of demonstration projects, the government introduced the vaccines for girls at school recently. The vaccines are highly effective at preventing pre-cancerous lesions associated with HPV, for at least 10 years and has proven to be cost-effective in most countries. However, there remain a number of unanswered questions about the introduction of the HPV vaccine including the experiences of young people receiving it. Most studies have only explored parents’ views of the vaccine. The very few published studies investigating young peoples’ understanding of the HPV vaccine found a limited awareness of the virus, and specifically its relation to cervical cancer and other cancers.

Recent evidence has shown that positive sentiment about the HPV vaccine is most common in social media discussions but that negative associations between named brand vaccines is also present in the public domain and most are related to reported side effects. Therefore, a clear understanding of the views and experiences of vaccination may help to inform trends in vaccine uptake which remain variable and with a lower update overall in England in 2015/6 compared to the previous year, and in Uganda, barriers to uptake remain.

Funding Notes

International students will have to fund the difference in tuition fees between UK/EU and international rate.

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