The blame game: Cervical cancer, knowledge of its link to human papillomavirus and stigma

Melissa A. Shepherd, Mary A. Gerend

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

33 Scopus citations

Abstract

This two-study paper examined stigma toward women with cervical cancer. Cervical cancer is caused by human papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually transmitted infection (STI). For Study 1, participants (N = 352) were randomly assigned to one of four conditions in which they read a brief description of a patient with either cervical or ovarian cancer in which the cause of the patient's cancer was either specified (cervical: HPV, a STI vs. ovarian: family history) or unspecified. Participants in the cervical cancer/cause-specified condition rated the patient as more dirty, dishonest and unwise, and reported feeling more moral disgust and 'grossed out' than participants in the cervical cancer/cause-unspecified condition. For Study 2, participants (N = 126) were randomly assigned to read a vignette about a patient with cervical cancer in which the cause of cancer was either specified or unspecified. Consistent with Study 1, participants in the cause-specified condition rated the patient as more unwise, and reported feeling more moral disgust and 'grossed out' than participants in the cause-unspecified condition. These effects were mediated by attributions of blame toward the patient. Findings suggest that women with cervical cancer may be stigmatised and blame may play a role in this process.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)94-109
Number of pages16
JournalPsychology and Health
Volume29
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014

Keywords

  • blame
  • cervical cancer
  • emotion
  • human papillomavirus
  • sexually transmitted disease
  • stigma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'The blame game: Cervical cancer, knowledge of its link to human papillomavirus and stigma'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this