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Oral Oncol. 2007 Apr;43(4):408-15. Epub 2006 Sep 25.

Oral cancer knowledge and awareness: primary and secondary effects of an information leaflet.

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  • 1Department of Public Health Sciences G. Sanarelli, University La Sapienza, Rome, Italy. <>


Information leaflets can be stored and read several times at the patient's own convenience and speed and, therefore, might contribute to increasing the long-term oral cancer knowledge and awareness. This hypothesis was investigated in a sample of adults living in a small central Italian town. The two groups of patients selected (Intervention, 100 subjects; Control, 84 subjects) were all aged 40 years and had never received oral cancer counselling or examination previously. Subjects completed a questionnaire (PRE) containing items regarding oral cancer epidemiology and prevention. Thereafter, the Intervention patients received the oral cancer information leaflet. One year later, patients from both groups were re-contacted and most (97 Intervention, 79 Control subjects, overall participation rate, 95.7%) completed the same questionnaire (POST). The POST questionnaire score, the score increment and the proportion of patients who sought an oral cancer examination during the year follow-up were used as markers of long-term knowledge, knowledge improvement and awareness, respectively. The between group differences in mean PRE score, POST score, score increment and proportion of subjects who had an examination were assessed by conventional statistical tests. The effect of leaflet corrected for confounders also was assessed using multiple regression analyses. No difference in PRE score and awareness was found. However, the mean POST score and the score increment were significantly higher in the Intervention group. The leaflet significantly increased knowledge but not awareness, with statistically significant effects from high educational level and younger age. It is concluded that the information leaflet had a significant effect in raising the long-term oral cancer knowledge in the general public. It also had a secondary effect on disease awareness in the locale.

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