The multidimensional nature of perceived barriers: Global versus practical barriers to HPV vaccination

Mary A. Gerend*, Melissa A. Shepherd, Janet E. Shepherd

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Objective: Perceived barriers are one of the strongest determinants of health behavior. The current study presents a novel conceptualization of perceived barriers by testing the following hypotheses: (a) perceived barriers are multidimensional and thus should cluster into distinct factors; (b) practical barriers should be salient for individuals intending to engage in a particular health behavior, whereas global barriers should be salient for individuals not intending to enact the behavior; and (c) whereas global barriers should be negatively associated with behavioral intentions, practical barriers should be positively related to intentions. Methods: The context for this investigation was young adult women's perceived barriers to human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination. Two months after viewing an educational video about HPV vaccination, women (aged 18-26) who had not received any doses of the HPV vaccine (n = 703) reported their perceived barriers to HPV vaccination and intentions to receive the vaccine. Results: Relative to the conventional single-factor approach, a five-factor model provided a better fit to the data and accounted for a larger proportion of variance in vaccination intentions. The relative salience of different perceived barriers varied as a function of women's intentions. Participants who were not intending to get vaccinated cited global concerns about vaccine safety and low perceived need for the vaccine. In contrast, participants intending to get vaccinated cited practical concerns (cost, logistical barriers) related to carrying out their intentions. Moreover, whereas global perceived barriers were associated with lower intentions, practical barriers were associated with higher intentions. Conclusions: Perceived barriers are multidimensional and vary systematically as a function of people's behavioral intentions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)361-369
Number of pages9
JournalHealth Psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2013


  • Perceived barriers
  • Sexually transmitted infections
  • Theories of health behavior

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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