Objectives Cervical cancer (CC) incidence and mortality among young women have been increasing in Japan. To develop effective measures to combat this, we assessed the feasibility of using a social networking site (SNS) to recruit a representative sample of young women to conduct a knowledge and attitude study about CC prevention via an internet-based questionnaire.
Methods From July 2012 to March 2013, advertising banners targeting women aged 16 to 35 years in Kanagawa Prefecture were placed on Facebook in a similar manner as an Australian (AUS) study conducted in 16- to 25-year-olds in 2010 and on a homepage to advertise our CC advocacy activities. Eligible participants were emailed instructions for accessing our secure Web site where they completed an online survey including demographics, awareness, and knowledge of human papillomavirus (HPV) and CC. Data for the study population were compared with the general Japanese population and the AUS study.
Results Among 394 women who expressed interest, 243 (62%) completed the survey, with 52% completing it via Facebook. Women aged 26 to 35 years, living in Yokohama City, with an education beyond high school, were overrepresented. Participants had high awareness and knowledge of HPV and CC, comparable with the AUS study participants. However, the self-reported HPV vaccination rate (22% among participants aged 16–25 years) and the recognition rate of the link between smoking and CC (31%) were significantly lower than in the AUS study (58% and 43%, respectively) (P < 0.05). Significant predictors of high knowledge scores about HPV included awareness of HPV vaccine (P < 0.001) and self-reported HPV vaccination (P < 0.05).
Conclusions The SNS and homepage are efficient methods to recruit young women into health surveys, which can effectively be performed online. A nationwide survey using SNSs would be an appropriate next step to better understand the current lack of uptake of the national HPV vaccine program by young women in Japan.
- Cervical cancer
- Young female
- Social networking sites
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Supported by 2012 and 2013 Grants-in-Aid from the Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare of Japan.
The authors declare no conflicts of interest.