PAPILLOMATTACK: the card game to learn about the human papillomavirus enters into the L’Hospitalet classrooms

  • Based on gamification, the PAPILLOMATTACK science education project teaches what the human papillomavirus is, which diseases it causes and how it can be prevented with vaccination and screening programs.
  • 350 primary school students from five schools in L’Hospitalet participate, during the 2023-24 academic year, in the first implementation of the game.
  • PAPILLOMATTACK is led by IDIBELL with the support of the L’Hospitalet city council.

What is the human papillomavirus (HPV)? How is it transmitted and how can we fight it? Which diseases can it cause? Why is the vaccine for this virus administered to children in 6th grade? We can find the answers to all these questions by playing PAPILLOMATTACK, an educational card game created to spread knowledge about HPV, an easily transmissible virus that can trigger several types of cancer, such as cervical cancer. However, the main objective of the project is to become a resource for upper primary school students to learn the infection prevention methods, such as vaccination and early detection.

PAPILLOMATTACK is led by the Infections and Cancer research group of the Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBELL), by the Cancer Epidemiology Research Program of the Catalan Institute of Oncology (ICO) and by the IDIBELL Communication Unit. It also counts on the collaboration of the Education and Health services of the L’Hospitalet city council. The first implementation of the activity is taking place during the 2023-24 academic year in five schools in L’Hospitalet: Sant Josep – El pi, Santa Marta, Lola Anglada, Menéndez Pidal and Alegre. A total of 350 students from 5th and 6th grade will participate because at these ages HPV vaccination is carried out by the Department of Health of the Generalitat de Catalunya, which since the 22/23 academic year has been administered to both girls and boys.


The game in the classroom

The PAPILLOMATTACK educational tool consists of an informative video and a card game that teaches students about the existence of a virus called papilloma, whose infection can be prevented with vaccination. And, also, that we have early detection methods to identify any anomaly and thus be able to treat it in time and avoid developing cervical cancer. The content of the game has been conceived and designed by Laura Asensio Puig, researcher in the Infections and Cancer group at IDIBELL and the Cancer Epidemiology Research Program at ICO.

The game consists of protecting each player’s body while infecting opponents with the virus. The game contains a deck of 88 cards and two expansions of 16 and 10 cards respectively, which increase the difficulty of the game. To introduce the key concepts of the activity, the game is accompanied by an informative video about the papillomavirus, its screening and vaccination, and which also details the rules for the card game. Thanks to a grant from the L’Hospitalet city council, IDIBELL has produced 500 units of the card deck.


A scientific study

To evaluate the acceptance of the game among students, as well as their knowledge about the papillomavirus and vaccines, a study will be carried out consisting of two anonymous surveys to be distributed in the classroom, one before and one after the activity. The IDIBELL and ICO researchers who carry out the activity in the classrooms are Paula Peremiquel, Maria Brotons, Bea Serrano, Raquel Ibañez, Gina Albero, Xisca Morey, Esther Roure, Victoria López, Sara Tous, Arnau Guasch and Laura Asensio.

Although the HPV vaccine has been administered for years, knowledge about this virus and the health problems it can cause is very low in the general population. On the other hand, there is a segment of society that, influenced by misleading news and misinformation campaigns, believes that vaccines are not safe and, consequently, choose not to vaccinate their sons and daughters, which can lead to a problem. of public health.

Both in Catalonia and in the rest of the state, there is a free program so that all women between 25 and 65 years old can have an early detection test.


The Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBELL) is a biomedical research center created in 2004. It is participated by the Bellvitge University Hospital and the Viladecans Hospital of the Catalan Institute of Health, the Catalan Institute of Oncology, the University of Barcelona and the City Council of L’Hospitalet de Llobregat. 

IDIBELL is a member of the Campus of International Excellence of the University of Barcelona HUBc and is part of the CERCA institution of the Generalitat de Catalunya. In 2009 it became one of the first five Spanish research centers accredited as a health research institute by the Carlos III Health Institute. In addition, it is part of the “HR Excellence in Research” program of the European Union and is a member of EATRIS and REGIC. Since 2018, IDIBELL has been an Accredited Center of the AECC Scientific Foundation (FCAECC). 

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