Research Output
Young people, constructions, context and the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) and HPV vaccine.
  Background: New social science research approaches are called for to address personal, socio-cultural, and political aspects of specific vaccines in context, given public anxieties and which go beyond the public health aspects. The human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine protects against the common sexually transmitted HPV virus, implicated in cervical cancers and other HPV-related diseases affecting young men and women. Our innovative programme of work responds to social science calls to address the public health challenge of vaccine anxieties through critical, qualitative and participatory approaches. Our aim is to identify sexual health inequalities and explore personal meanings for the HPV vaccine within a socio-cultural context.
Method: Qualitative, critical, discursive and participatory approaches are used to meet the aims of this research programme. Informed by approaches such as Foucauldian discourse analysis (Willig, 2008), we explore common discourses available and the identity-constructions they entail within particular contexts for groups of young people to compare these against national public health efforts.
Findings: We illustrate a selection of findings from recently completed research projects amongst young people including: European young women constructions which centred on being ‘health vigilant’ in the face of taking responsibility for their sexual health but with constraints on inclusion for this vaccine; Scottish, Spanish and US young men’s constructions of the HPV vaccine were contrasted and ranged from irrelevance to indifference. Within harder to reach sub-groups in Scotland, we illustrate findings from previously neglected groups including young men with a learning disability and those from a Black, Asian, minority ethnic background to consider how participants were excluded from this vaccine through gender, western cultural norms and capacity/ability and we consider participatory approaches that are culturally meaningful.
Conclusions: We argue that in order to meet the challenges of addressing public anxieties for specific vaccines such as HPV and sexual health inequalities, qualitative, critical discursive and participatory approaches have the potential to respond to public health challenges for vaccines. It is important to consider personal meanings and constructions within their socio-cultural context and respond to these meaningfully. These insights should inform national population-based vaccination efforts.

  • Type:

    Conference Paper (unpublished)

  • Date:

    15 May 2017

  • Publication Status:


  • Library of Congress:

    RC Internal medicine

  • Dewey Decimal Classification:

    616 Diseases

  • Funders:

    Edinburgh Napier Funded


Gray Brunton, C., & Carnegie, E. (2017, May). Young people, constructions, context and the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) and HPV vaccine. Paper presented at International Week, School of Health and Social Care, Global issues in Healthcare



HPV; cross cultural; constructions; qualitative research; participatory

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