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J Community Health. 2014 Dec;39(6):1109-16. doi: 10.1007/s10900-014-9862-6.

Oral cancer awareness among community-dwelling senior citizens in Illinois.

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Harper College School of Dental Hygiene, 1200 W Algonquin Rd, Palatine, IL, 60067, USA,


The study assessed participant awareness of oral cancer (OC), risk factors, signs and symptoms, and history of an OC screening exam and whether a relationship exists between these factors and the participant's age, level of education, socioeconomic status (SES), ethnicity, and gender. It was a descriptive survey research with a non-randomized sample. Participants were a convenience sample of seniors participating in a congregate dining program of the DuPage County Senior Citizens Council. Data was collected through a written, self-administered survey. Sixty-two surveys were completed, with an overall response rate of 66%. A statistically significant relationship was found between the level of education and awareness of OC risk factors (r = 0.26; P = 0.04). An inverse relationship was found between the level of education and the level of OC awareness questions, "have you ever heard about OC?" (r = -0.37; P = 0.004), and "how much do you know about OC?" (r = 0.35; P = 0.008). A trend toward significance was noted for the level of education and awareness of OC signs and symptoms (r = 0.24; P = 0.06). The levels of OC awareness in the seniors were lower than the general population. Seniors in the lower SES strata and who have low education levels are of particular concern, and it is important to conduct further studies tailored towards populations with these combined factors. Additional research is needed to determine how to best communicate OC awareness and implement programs specifically for this high-risk group.

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