Social Work Student Attitudes Toward Contraception and the HPV Vaccine

Chris Flaherty, Gretchen E. Ely, L. Shevawn Akers, Mark Dignan, Tara Bonistall Noland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


The purpose of the current study was to examine social work student attitudes toward the social work profession's perspective on certain aspects of reproductive health in the United States: contraception, emergency contraception, and the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine. Students at a large, public, land grant university were surveyed to determine whether their personal attitudes were in line with the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) stance on reproductive health outlined in the NASW policy statement on family planning and reproductive health. The relationship between levels of religious activity and attitudes toward these aspects of reproductive health was also examined. Results suggest that almost all of the respondents support public funding for family planning. Furthermore, almost all students indicate willingness to refer clients for general contraception. However, results related to emergency contraception indicate that 72% of students disagree that it should be available for adolescents over the counter, even with parental consent, which is inconsistent with the NASW perspective. Sixty-four percent of students report believing that the HPV vaccine is unsafe. Further, as levels of religious activity increased, acceptance of some of these aspects of reproductive health decreased. Implications for social work practice, education, and directions for future research are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)361-381
Number of pages21
JournalSocial Work in Health Care
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2012


  • HPV vaccine
  • contraception
  • emergency contraception
  • family planning
  • reproductive health
  • social work students

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Community and Home Care
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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