Mass media coverage of HPV vaccination in Romania: a content analysis

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Abstract

Romania has the highest cervical cancer burden in Europe. Despite the implementation of two human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination
programmes, the uptake remained extremely low and the programmes were discontinued. Given that media are a common source of
information for the public and may influence vaccination decisions, this article sought to explore the content and quality
of HPV vaccine media coverage in Romania. We conducted a content analysis of 271 media reports (from newspapers, magazines,
videos and informational websites) published online between November 2007 and January 2012. Overall, results indicated that
31.4% of the materials were neutral, 28% were negative or extremely negative, 17% were mixed, while 23.6% were positive towards
the vaccine. The most dominant vaccine-related concerns were side effects and insufficient testing. Elementary information
about the vaccine and HPV was constantly left out and sometimes inaccuracies were found. Negatively disposed reports were
more likely to contain incorrect data about vaccine efficacy and less likely to provide comprehensive information about the
vaccine and HPV-related diseases. Some dimensions of media coverage varied across time and media outlets. The present findings
suggest that educational interventions are greatly needed as a response to suboptimal and incomplete media coverage of HPV
vaccination.

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