Skip to main content
Deanna Kepka

Deanna Kepka, MPH, PhD

Languages spoken: Spanish

Academic Information

Departments Adjunct - Population Health Sciences

Academic Office Information

Deanna Kepka, PhD, MPH, is a Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) investigator and an assistant professor in the College of Nursing at the University of Utah. She is a member of the Cancer Control and Population Sciences (CCPS) research group

Kepka’s main research interests are the gaps in health care access and quality for vulnerable populations. She focuses specifically on preventing cervical cancer among US Latinas, who have higher rates of cervical cancer than most other racial and ethnic groups. Utah has one of the lowest rates of completion of the HPV vaccination series in the country, and Kepka’s work with CCPS and the College of Nursing intends to develop more effective patient-provider interventions that will help increase this rate. She is also dedicated to improving health care services for cancer prevention and control among minority and underserved populations.

Kepka has worked with teams in at-risk communities, promoting positive health behaviors in Jamaica, Chicago, North Carolina, and Washington. Since 2007, she has worked with Hispanic and Latino communities in Mexico, Peru, Chicago, North Carolina, and Washington. She has also developed a radionovela (a Spanish short story broadcast) that successfully improved knowledge and sparked interest in the HPV vaccine among rural Latino parents in the United States.

Kepka was most recently a posdoctoral fellow in the Cancer Prevention Fellowship Program at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland, where she received the Cancer Prevention Fellowship Merit Award. She received her PhD in health services from the University of Washington School of Public Health and her MPH from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Gillings School of Global Public Health.

Research Statement

My Current Projects Include:

Community-level Geographic Factors and HPV Vaccination in the U.S.


This study aims to look at contextual factors that relate to patterns of HPV vaccination receipt in the United States among eligible girls and boys from 2008-2014 using the National Immunization Survey -Teen.

Role: PI

Salud Juntos: A Promotora-Led Home-Based Cancer Care Support Solution


This study is a promotora-led home-based cancer care support solution project intended to reduce health disparities by developing technologies that are effective, affordable, culturally acceptable, and accessible.

Role: Co-I

Cancer Prevention among Service Industry Employees: Multi-level Intervention Development

Huntsman Cancer Institute GMaP Region 6 Pilot Award

The objectives of the present study are to assess to the effectiveness of our cancer prevention program for hotel and cleaning workers and to identify strategies to expand this program into a multi-level intervention for cancer prevention among service industry employees in both metropolitan and nonmetropolitan settings in the Intermountain West.

Role: PI

Dental and Dental Hygienist Student Perceptions, Knowledge, and Clinical Procedures Regarding HPV Oropharyngeal Cancer

University of Utah College of Nursing Burton Award Pilot Grant

This proposal aims to assess perceptions, knowledge, and clinical procedures related to HPV oropharyngeal cancer prevention through a survey of dental and dental hygienist students in more than ten dental and dental hygienist education programs across the United States.

Role: Co-PI

Latina Cancer Screening

Comprehensive Cancer Control/UCAN

Primary Investigator: Deanna KepkaGoals: To increase the proportion of Utah women aged 40 – 74 years who have received a mammogram in the past two years from 67.6% to 81.1% by 2015; to increase the proportion of Utah women who have received a Pap test in the past three years from 79.3% to 93% percent by 2015; and to increase the proportion of Utah adults aged 50 to 75 who have received a colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy in the last ten years and/or FOBT in the last year from 69.0% to 80.0% by 2015.

Patient, parent and health care factors related to HPV vaccination in Utah

Primary Children's Medical Center Foundation

Primary Investigator: Deanna Kepka

Goals: To determine the individual and health care system level factors related to HPV vaccination among female and male adolescents ages 11-17 years in Utah from 2008-2012 using data from the National Immunization Survey - Teen.

Exploring Parent and Healthcare Provider Characteristics related to HPV Vaccination: A Population-level Utah Survey

University of Utah Research Committee Faculty Research and Creative Grant

Primary Investigator: Deanna Kepka

Goals: To determine parental demographic factors and parental HPV knowledge related to HPV vaccine uptake and completion of the 3-dose vaccine series among female and male adolescents age 13 – 17 years in Utah from 2008 – 2012; to explore physician HPV vaccine recommendations and HPV vaccine uptake among female and male adolescents age 13 – 17 years in Utah from 2008 – 2012; and to assess HPV vaccine uptake in relation to the completion of other recommended adolescent immunizations among female and male adolescents age 13 – 17 years in Utah from 2008 – 2012.

An Investigation of Latino Parents’ Perceptions of the HPV Vaccine Using Mini-Surveys and Focus Groups

University of Utah Faculty Research Grant

Primary Investigator: Deanna Kepka

Goals: To host four focus groups in collaboration with two local Latino community organizations to explore knowledge of cervical cancer, HPV, and the HPV vaccine, interest in receiving the vaccine for one’s child, barriers to uptake and facilitators to uptake, and ideas for interventions that may help increase uptake and completion of the 3-dose series among Latino adolescents in Salt Lake City.

Assessment of factors related to HPV vaccination uptake and 3-dose completion from 2008-2012 in the Intermountain West and pilot test of healthcare system level HPV vaccination intervention

Huntsman Cancer Institute Cancer Control and Population Sciences Pilot Award Program

Primary Investigator: Deanna Kepka

Goals: To determine the individual and health care system level factors related to HPV vaccination among female and male adolescents age 11 – 17 years in the Intermountain West from 2008 – 2012; to map regional changes in HPV vaccination initiation and 3-dose completion rates among eligible adolescent females and males over a five year time period in Utah, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, and New Mexico; and to develop and test a provider reminder and feedback system in a clinic setting and a culturally-tailored HPV vaccination education and reminder program for Latino parents.

Selected Publications

Journal Article

  1. Ou JY, Ramsay JM, Lee G, VanDerslice JA, Taddie M, Kirchhoff AC, Divver E, Akerley W, Kepka D, Hanson HA (2022). Patterns of indoor radon concentrations, radon-hazard potential, and radon testing on a small geographic scale in Utah. J Environ Radioact, 256, 107046. (Read full article)
  2. Kaddas HK, Ramsay JM, Ou JY, Fair D, Kepka D, Kirchhoff AC (2022). HPV Vaccination Initiation and Completion Among Pediatric, Adolescent, and Young Adult Cancer Survivors and a Comparison Population Sample Receiving Primary Care. J Pediatr Hematol Oncol, 45(2), e236-e243. (Read full article)
  3. Mann S, Christini K, Chai Y, Chang CP, Hashibe M, Kepka D (2022). Vaccine hesitancy and COVID-19 immunization among rural young adults. Prev Med Rep, 28, 101845. (Read full article)
  4. Warner ZC, Reid B, Auguste P, Joseph W, Kepka D, Warner EL (2022). Awareness and Knowledge of HPV, HPV Vaccination, and Cervical Cancer among an Indigenous Caribbean Community. Int J Environ Res Public Health, 19(9). (Read full article)
  5. Pruitt SL, Tiro JA, Kepka D, Henry K (2022). Missed Vaccination Opportunities Among U.S. Adolescents by Area Characteristics. Am J Prev Med, 62(4), 538-547. (Read full article)
  6. Waters AR, Anderson JS, Mann K, Lopez PLV, Kepka D, Kirchhoff AC, Warner EL (2022). Drivers of COVID-19 Vaccine Intent Among Survivors of Adolescent and Young Adult Cancer: a Mixed Method Study. J Cancer Educ. (Read full article)
  7. Ko LK, Scarinci IC, Bouchard EG, Drake BF, Rodriguez EM, Chen MS, Kepka D, Kruse-Diehr AJ, Befort C, Shannon J, Farris PE, Trentham-Dietz A, Onega T (2021). A Framework for Equitable Partnerships to Promote Cancer Prevention and Control in Rural Settings. JNCI Cancer Spectr, 6(2). (Read full article)
  8. Ramsay JM, Kaddas HK, Ou JY, Kepka D, Kirchhoff AC (2022). Missed opportunities for concomitant HPV vaccination among childhood cancer survivors. Cancer Med, 11(4), 1181-1191. (Read full article)
  9. Kepka D, Christini K, McGough E, Wagner A, Del Fiol G, Gibson B, Ayres S, Brandt HM, Mann S, Petrik AF, Coronado GD (2021). Successful Multi-Level HPV Vaccination Intervention at a Rural Healthcare Center in the Era of COVID-19. Front Digit Health, 3, 719138. (Read full article)
  10. Kepka D, Bodson J, Lai D, Sanchez-Birkhead AC, Davis FA, Lee D, Tavake-Pasi F, Napia E, Villalta J, Mukundente V, Mooney R, Coulter H, Stark LA (2018). Diverse caregivers' HPV vaccine-related awareness and knowledge. Ethn Health, 26(6), 811-826. (Read full article)
  11. Ayres S, Gee A, Kim S, Hashibe M, Praag A, Kaiser D, Chang CP, Brandt HM, Kepka D (2021). Human Papillomavirus Vaccination Knowledge, Barriers, and Recommendations Among Healthcare Provider Groups in the Western United States. J Cancer Educ. (Read full article)
  12. Waters AR, Kepka D, Ramsay JM, Mann K, Vaca Lopez PL, Anderson JS, Ou JY, Kaddas HK, Palmer A, Ray N, Tsukamoto T, Fair DB, Lewis MA, Kirchhoff AC, Warner EL (2021). COVID-19 Vaccine Hesitancy Among Adolescent and Young Adult Cancer Survivors. JNCI Cancer Spectr, 5(3), pkab049. (Read full article)
  13. Waters AR, Mann K, Vaca Lopez PL, Kepka D, Wu YP, Kirchhoff AC (2021). HPV Vaccine Experiences and Preferences Among Young Adult Cancer Survivors and Caregivers of Childhood Cancer Survivors. J Cancer Educ, 37, 1519-1524. (Read full article)
  14. Rutkoski H, Tay DL, Dixon BL, Pinzon LM, Mooney R, Winkler JR, Kepka D (2021). A Multi-state Evaluation of Oral Health Students' Knowledge of Human Papillomavirus-Related Oropharyngeal Cancer and HPV Vaccination. J Cancer Educ, 35(5), 1017-1025. (Read full article)
  15. Warner EL, Vaca Lopez PL, Kepka D, Mann K, Kaddas HK, Fair D, Fluchel M, Knackstedt ED, Pannier ST, Martel L, Kirchhoff AC (2020). Influence of provider recommendations to restart vaccines after childhood cancer on caregiver intention to vaccinate. J Cancer Surviv, 14(5), 757-767. (Read full article)
  16. Harris KL, Tay D, Kaiser D, Praag A, Rutkoski H, Dixon BL, Pinzon LM, Winkler JR, Kepka D (2019). The perspectives, barriers, and willingness of Utah dentists to engage in human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine practices. Hum Vaccin Immunother, 16(2), 436-444. (Read full article)
  17. Swiecki-Sikora AL, Henry KA, Kepka D (2019). HPV Vaccination Coverage Among US Teens Across the Rural-Urban Continuum. J Rural Health, 35(4), 506-517. (Read full article)
  18. Ou JY, Warner EL, Nam GE, Martel L, Carbajal-Salisbury S, Fuentes V, Wetter DW, Kirchhoff AC, Kepka D (2018). Colorectal cancer knowledge and screening adherence among low-income Hispanic employees. Health Educ Res, 34(4), 400-414. (Read full article)
  19. Kepka D, Rutkoski H, Pappas L, Tay DL, Winkler JR, Dixon B, Velazquez A, Pinzon LM (2019). US oral health students' willingness to train and administer the HPV vaccine in dental practices. Prev Med Rep, 15, 100957. (Read full article)
  20. Blackburn BE, Soisson S, Rowe K, Snyder J, Fraser A, Deshmukh V, Newman M, Smith K, Herget K, Kirchhoff AC, Kepka D, Werner TL, Gaffney D, Mooney K, Hashibe M (2019). Prognostic factors for rural endometrial cancer patients in a population-based cohort. BMC Public Health, 19(1), 921. (Read full article)
  21. Warner EL, Martel L, Ou JY, Nam GE, Carbajal-Salisbury S, Fuentes V, Kirchhoff AC, Kepka D (2018). A Workplace-Based Intervention to Improve Awareness, Knowledge, and Utilization of Breast, Cervical, and Colorectal Cancer Screenings Among Latino Service and Manual Labor Employees in Utah. J Community Health, 44(2), 256-264. (Read full article)
  22. Islam JY, Gruber JF, Kepka D, Kunwar M, Smith SB, Rothholz MC, Brewer NT, Smith JS (2019). Pharmacist insights into adolescent human papillomavirus vaccination provision in the United States. Hum Vaccin Immunother, 15(7-8), 1839-1850. (Read full article)
  23. Kirchhoff AC, Mann K, Warner EL, Kaddas HK, Fair D, Fluchel M, Knackstedt ED, Kepka D (2019). HPV vaccination knowledge, intentions, and practices among caregivers of childhood cancer survivors. Hum Vaccin Immunother, 15(7-8), 1767-1775. (Read full article)
  24. Gaffney DK, Hashibe M, Kepka D, Maurer KA, Werner TL (2018). Too many women are dying from cervix cancer: Problems and solutions. Gynecol Oncol, 151(3), 547-554. (Read full article)
  25. Kepka D, Bodson J, Lai D, Sanchez-Birkhead A, Villalta J, Mukundente V, Tavake-Pasi F, Davis FA, Lee D, Napia E, Mooney R, Coulter H, Stark LA (2018). Factors Associated with Human Papillomavirus Vaccination Among Diverse Adolescents in a Region with Low Human Papillomavirus Vaccination Rates. Health Equity, 2(1), 223-232. (Read full article)
  26. Rutkoski H, Fowler B, Mooney R, Pappas L, Dixon BL, Pinzon LM, Winkler J, Kepka D (2017). Pilot Test of Survey to Assess Dental and Dental Hygiene Student Human Papillomavirus-Related Oropharyngeal Cancer Knowledge, Perceptions, and Clinical Practices. J Cancer Educ, 33(4), 907-914. (Read full article)
  27. Warner EL, Bodson J, Mooney R, Lai D, Samadder NJ, Kepka D (2017). Latinas' Colorectal Cancer Screening Knowledge, Barriers to Receipt, and Feasibility of Home-Based Fecal Immunochemical Testing. J Immigr Minor Health, 20(4), 981-990. (Read full article)
  28. Martin S, Warner EL, Kirchhoff AC, Mooney R, Martel L, Kepka D (2018). An Electronic Medical Record Alert Intervention to Improve HPV Vaccination Among Eligible Male College Students at a University Student Health Center. J Community Health, 43(4), 756-760. (Read full article)
  29. Hashibe M, Kirchhoff AC, Kepka D, Kim J, Millar M, Sweeney C, Herget K, Monroe M, Henry NL, Lopez AM, Mooney K (2018). Disparities in cancer survival and incidence by metropolitan versus rural residence in Utah. Cancer Med, 7(4), 1490-1497. (Read full article)
  30. Fowler B, Samadder NJ, Kepka D, Ding Q, Pappas L, Kirchhoff AC (2017). Improvements in Colorectal Cancer Incidence Not Experienced by Nonmetropolitan Women: A Population-Based Study From Utah. J Rural Health, 34(2), 155-161. (Read full article)
  31. Fowler B, Ding Q, Pappas L, Wu YP, Linder L, Yancey J, Wright J, Clayton M, Kepka D, Kirchhoff AC (2016). Utah Cancer Survivors: A Comprehensive Comparison of Health-Related Outcomes Between Survivors and Individuals Without a History of Cancer. J Cancer Educ, 33(1), 214-221. (Read full article)
  32. Ou JY, Fowler B, Ding Q, Kirchhoff AC, Pappas L, Boucher K, Akerley W, Wu Y, Kaphingst K, Harding G, Kepka D (2018). A statewide investigation of geographic lung cancer incidence patterns and radon exposure in a low-smoking population. BMC Cancer, 18(1), 115. (Read full article)
  33. Warner EL, Ding Q, Pappas LM, Henry K, Kepka D (2017). White, affluent, educated parents are least likely to choose HPV vaccination for their children: a cross-sectional study of the National Immunization Study - teen. BMC Pediatr, 17(1), 200. (Read full article)
  34. Lai D, Bodson J, Warner EL, Ayres S, Mooney R, Kepka D (2017). Younger Age and Health Beliefs Associated with Being Overdue for Pap Testing among Utah Latinas who were Non-Adherent to Cancer Screening Guidelines. J Immigr Minor Health, 19(5), 1088-1099. (Read full article)
  35. Warner EL, Fowler B, Martel L, Kepka D (2017). Improving HPV Vaccination Through a Diverse Multi-state Coalition. J Community Health, 42(5), 911-920. (Read full article)
  36. Bodson J, Wilson A, Warner EL, Kepka D (2017). Religion and HPV vaccine-related awareness, knowledge, and receipt among insured women aged 18-26 in Utah. PLoS One, 12(8), e0183725. (Read full article)
  37. Warner EL, Ding Q, Pappas L, Bodson J, Fowler B, Mooney R, Kirchhoff AC, Kepka D (2017). Health Care Providers' Knowledge of HPV Vaccination, Barriers, and Strategies in a State With Low HPV Vaccine Receipt: Mixed-Methods Study. JMIR Cancer, 3(2), e12. (Read full article)
  38. Henry KA, Swiecki-Sikora AL, Stroup AM, Warner EL, Kepka D (2017). Area-based socioeconomic factors and Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination among teen boys in the United States. BMC Public Health, 18(1), 19. (Read full article)
  39. Bodson J, Ding Q, Warner EL, Hawkins AJ, Henry KA, Kepka D (2017). Sub-Regional Assessment of HPV Vaccination Among Female Adolescents in the Intermountain West and Implications for Intervention Opportunities. Matern Child Health J, 21(7), 1500-1511. (Read full article)
  40. Lai D, Bodson J, Davis FA, Lee D, Tavake-Pasi F, Napia E, Villalta J, Mukundente V, Mooney R, Coulter H, Stark LA, Sanchez-Birkhead AC, Kepka D (2016). Diverse Families' Experiences with HPV Vaccine Information Sources: A Community-Based Participatory Approach. J Community Health, 42(2), 400-412. (Read full article)
  41. Warner EL (03/2017).
  42. Kepka D, Spigarelli MG, Warner EL, Yoneoka Y, McConnell N, Balch A (2016). Statewide analysis of missed opportunities for human papillomavirus vaccination using vaccine registry data. Papillomavirus Res, 2, 128-132. (Read full article)
  43. Kepka D, Spigarelli MG, Warner EL, Yoneoka Y, McConnell N, Balch A (2016). Statewide analysis of missed opportunities for human papillomavirus vaccination using vaccine registry data. Papillomavirus Res, 2, 128-132. (Read full article)
  44. Fowler B, Bodson J, Warner EL, Dyer J, Kepka D (2016). Poor HPV vaccine-related awareness and knowledge among Utah Latinas overdue for recommended cancer screenings. J Community Health, 41(4), 825-37. (Read full article)
  45. Wilson AR, Hashibe M, Bodson J, Gren LH, Taylor BA, Greenwood J, Jackson BR, She R, Egger MJ, Kepka D (2016). Factors related to HPV vaccine uptake and 3-dose completion among women in a low vaccination region of the USA: an observational study. BMC Womens Health, 16, 41. (Read full article)
  46. Lai D, Ding Q, Bodson J, Warner EL, Kepka D (2015). Factors Associated with Increased HPV Vaccine Use in Rural-Frontier U.S. States. Public Health Nurs, 33(4), 283-94. (Read full article)
  47. Bodson J, Warner EL, Kepka D (2016). Moderate Awareness and Limited Knowledge Relating to Cervical Cancer, HPV, and the HPV Vaccine Among Hispanics/Latinos in Utah. Health Promot Pract, 17(4), 548-56. (Read full article)
  48. Kepka D, Ding Q, Hawkins AJ, Warner EL, Boucher KM (2016). Factors associated with early adoption of the HPV vaccine in US male adolescents include Hispanic ethnicity and receipt of other vaccines. Prev Med Rep, 4, 98-102. (Read full article)
  49. Henry KA, Stroup AM, Warner EL, Kepka D (2016). Geographic Factors and Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Vaccination Initiation among Adolescent Girls in the United States. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev, 25(2), 309-17. (Read full article)
  50. Kepka D, Ding Q, Bodson J, Warner EL, Mooney K (2015). Latino Parents' Awareness and Receipt of the HPV Vaccine for Sons and Daughters in a State with Low Three-Dose Completion. J Cancer Educ, 30(4), 808-12. (Read full article)
  51. Kepka D, Ding Q, Warner EL, Spigarelli MG, Mooney K (2015). High school females and those with other vaccinations most likely to complete the Human Papillomavirus vaccine. Prev Med Rep, 2, 79-83. (Read full article)
  52. Kepka D, Breen N, King JB, Meissner HI, Roland KB, Benard VB, Saraiya M (2014). Demographic factors associated with overuse of Pap testing. Am J Prev Med, 47(5), 629-33. (Read full article)
  53. Bagshaw HP, Pappas LM, Kepka DL, Tward JD, Gaffney DK (2014). Patterns of care with brachytherapy for cervical cancer. Int J Gynecol Cancer, 24(9), 1659-64. (Read full article)


  1. Brandt HM, Kepka D, Kirchhoff AC, Daniel CL, Bhatt NS (2021). Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination is cancer prevention for childhood cancer survivors. Cancer, 128(2), 237-239. (Read full article)


  1. Pinzon LM, Velazquez A, Rutkoski H, Tay DL, Martel L, Drury C, Ayres S, Dixon B, Winkler JR, Kepka D (2022). Cross-cultural adaptation of a Spanish version of a previously validated HPV survey that evaluates dental students' knowledge, perception and clinical practices in Latin America. BMC Oral Health (22(1), p. 72). England. (Read full article)
  2. Kirchhoff AC Mann K Warner EL Kaddas HK Fair D Fluchel M Knackstedt ED Kepka D (05/22/2019). HPV vaccination knowledge, intentions, and practices among caregivers of childhood cancer survivors. Human Vaccinations and Immunotherapeutics. Epub ahead of print.
  3. Deanna Kepka (01/26/2015).