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BMC Public Health. 2012 Oct 9;12:855. doi: 10.1186/1471-2458-12-855.

Physicians' knowledge of and adherence to improving oral health.

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Community Oral Health Department, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, P.O. Box 1439955991, Tehran, Iran.



Integration of oral health promotion into general health care has been highly recommended by the World Health Organization. Primary-care physicians can as part of their general health care promote and contribute to improved oral health care. Our aim was to investigate primary-care physicians' knowledge of oral health, their attitudes toward delivering oral health care (OHC), and their willingness to obtain more education in this field.


We conducted a cross-sectional survey of all primary-care physicians working in the public health centers of Tehran city. An anonymous self-administered questionnaire queried their knowledge in pediatric- and general medicine-related areas of dentistry, providing knowledge scores to be calculated for three domains. The physicians' attitudes toward OHC and willingness to pursue continuous education underwent evaluation with statements utilizing a 5-point Likert scale. Totally, 220 physicians took part in the survey (response rate: 92%). Chi-square test, linear and logistic regression, and t-test served for statistical analyses.


The physicians' knowledge score was significantly lower in the pediatric domain than in the dental and medical domains (p < 0.001). The number of physicians answering correctly to the pediatric questions was less than 40%. Almost all physicians (95%) reported it necessary for a physician to know about OHC and admitted (78%) that physicians' general knowledge in this field is inadequate. Further, 77% of the physicians expressed a will to implement preventive oral health activities in their practice, and almost two-thirds (62%) of them showed a willingness to pursue further education about OHC. Those with higher knowledge scores had a greater willingness to deliver oral health care to their patients.


Physicians' lack of knowledge of OHC and their generally positive attitudes toward it revealed a great need for planning of a continuous medical education program in primary care.

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