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J Public Health Dent. 2005 Summer;65(3):160-5.

Knowledge of oral cancer and screening practices of primary care providers at Federally Qualified Health Centers.

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1
Department of Cariology, Restorative Sciences & Endodontics, School of Dentistry, University of Michigan, 1101 N. University, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1078, USA. woosung@umich.edu

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

Primary care providers (PCPs) who worked in Federally-Qualified Health Centers (FQHC) in Michigan were surveyed to assess their knowledge level and practices related to screening and preventing oral cancer.

METHODS:

A questionnaire was developed with the assistance of dental and medical experts, and revised through focus groups. The questionnaire included one case scenario describing a suspicious oral lesion in a 55-year old female patient, followed by questions assessing PCPs' knowledge level, attitude, opinion, and screening practices for oral cancer. This mail survey was conducted in 2003.

RESULTS:

Survey response rate was 56.4%. Over 70% of the respondents reported that they screen patients for oral cancer during a routine physical examination. Forty-four percent of PCPs had high knowledge level, based on the scenario questions. Those who had high knowledge level were more likely to be physicians, males, and more likely to perform screening for oral cancer than those with low knowledge level. There was no difference in age and race/ethnicity between high and low knowledge groups. Perceived barriers included (1) lack of education; (2) lack of specialists to refer patients; and (3) lack of reimbursement.

CONCLUSIONS:

The majority of PCPs in this survey had positive attitudes about performing screening for oral cancer. To involve PCPs in screening for oral cancer, oral health programs should focus on providing up-to-date education, setting up a referral system, and providing proper reimbursement.

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