Numerous national guidelines now include primary human papillomavirus (HPV) testing as a recommended screening option for cervical cancer in the United States yet little is known regarding screening intentions for this specific screening strategy or interventions that may increase uptake. Gain- and loss-framed messaging can positively impact health behaviors; however, there is mixed evidence on which is more effective for cervical cancer screening, with no published evidence examining HPV testing. To help address this gap, this study compared the effects of message framing on screening knowledge and intentions related to primary HPV testing. We randomized females aged 21–65 (n = 365) to receive brief messaging about cervical cancer screening with either gain- or loss-framing. In January–February 2020, participants completed pretest and posttest measures evaluating cervical cancer knowledge, beliefs, and intentions to be screened using HPV testing. We used generalized estimating equations to model message and framing effects on screening outcomes, controlling for age, education, race, and baseline measures. In comparison to pretest, messaging significantly increased HPV-related screening intentions [adjusted OR (aOR): 2.4 (1–3.5)] and knowledge [aOR: 1.7 (1.2–2.4)], perceived effectiveness of HPV testing [aOR: 4.3 (2.8–6.5)], and preference for primary HPV screening [aOR: 3.2 (1.2–8.5)], regardless of message framing. For all outcomes, no significant interaction by message framing was observed. Brief public health messaging positively impacted HPV-related screening intentions, knowledge, and beliefs, independent of message framing. In conjunction with other strategies, these results suggest that messaging could be an effective tool to increase uptake of primary HPV testing.

Prevention Relevance:

Primary HPV tests are more sensitive and offer greater reassurance than Pap tests alone yet use for routine cervical cancer screening remains low. Brief public health messaging can positively impact awareness, knowledge, and screening intention regarding primary HPV testing. Messaging campaigns paired with other strategies can increase uptake across populations.

See related Spotlight, p. 823

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