Table 3

Brief description of themes relating to the psychological impact of disclosing a human papillomavirus infection to a sexual partner and the studies associated with them

ThemeSubthemeStudiesExplanationQuote(s)
Anticipated psychological impact of disclosureGeneral concerns about disclosureBarnack-Tavlaris et al29
Bertram & Magnussen30
Kosenko et al32
McCaffery et al24
McCurdy et al37
Newton & McCabe38
Women reported feeling anxious, worried and fearful about disclosing HPV to a sexual partner."For some, the stress of disclosure appeared to be the most difficult aspect of managing the HPV infection." [A]24
"I feel apprehensive about having to disclose this information to a sexual partner: I know that I will feel vulnerable at that moment." [P]38
Stigma of having an STIBertram & Magnussen30
McCaffery et al24
McCurdy et al37
Perrin et al40
Waller etal36
Women were concerned about disclosing the infection because of the perception of promiscuity that is associated with having an STI."Feelings of shame and stigma associated with having an STI may affect willingness to disclose HPV to a sexual partner." [A]40
"The stigma of HPV as a sexually transmitted infection was more devastating to some than the fear of cancer." [A]30
How will others respond?Barnack-Tavlaris et al29
Kosenko et al32
Kahn et al33
McCaffery & Irwig35
McCaffery et al24
McCurdy et al37
Newton & McCabe38
Parente Sa Barreto et al39
Women were concerned how their partner would respond to disclosure, for example, whether their partner’s perception of them would change or that a partner might reject them (sexually or by ending the relationship)."What about when I tell a guy I want to be with that I have HPV? Will he run away as if I'm some dirty girl that sleeps around, which I'm anything but?" [P]29
When is disclosure necessary?Bertram & Magnussen30
Kosenko et al32
Lin et al34
McCaffery & Irwig35
McCaffery et al24
McCurdy et al37
Women questioned whether it was necessary to disclose, particularly to male partners, as women were unsure of the impact for them. Women also questioned to whom they should disclosure to and the best time to disclose."I guess there aren’t many repercussions for the male partner. That is the hardest part: it’s the partner piece. That was the biggest issue. It was really hard to find any information on it [HPV in men] even to find something that says it won’t affect them." [P]30
"It’s not like I had tons of partners, but it really could’ve been any of them. I don’t know when, I don’t know where, I don’t know who. I don’t know who I’m supposed to tell…". [P]32
Managing disclosureBertram & Magnussen30
Kahn et al33
Lin et al34
McCaffery et al24
Perrin et al40
Some women chose to focus on the abnormal cervical screening result rather than on testing positive for HPV."I have told my partner that they don’t know where it comes from … obviously because he’d look at me in a different light because … he’d be like, have I got it or has she been with someone else?" [P]24
"To manage the anxiety many women chose not to tell their partner about their HPV infection, instead focusing on their abnormal cytology result which did not carry direct connotations of sexual transmission." [A]24
  • [P] denotes a participant comment; [A] denotes an author comment. Superscript number in the Quote(s) column denotes the number of the study in the reference list.

  • HPV, human papillomavirus; STI, sexually transmitted infection.