Master of Science in Dentistry
Purpose: This study investigates knowledge about HPV and examines if pediatric dental providers should include HPV education for guardians of patients 10-18 years.
Methods: Legal guardians of 10-18 year-old patients of the Virginia Commonwealth University Pediatric Dental Clinic were enrolled in this prospective cohort study. Participants completed a baseline survey, were provided HPV education, completed an initial follow-up survey, and then completed a 6-month follow-up survey.
Results: A total of 54 participants completed the baseline and initial follow-up surveys and 17 completed the 6-month follow-up survey. The average number of correct responses was 3.4 of 6 knowledge questions, which significantly improved to 5.4 at follow-up (P<.0001). The greatest increase in the percent responding correctly was regarding HPV and oropharyngeal cancer from 22% baseline to 91% at initial follow-up (P<.0001). Regarding Stage of Change, 14 (23%) of those not initially in the Action group had improved at least 1 stage. At the 6-month follow-up, 3 (43%) guardians reported completing the HPV vaccine series.
Conclusions: These results demonstrate limited knowledge about HPV and highlight the pediatric dental provider’s ability to educate. Since the greatest knowledge gap pertained to HPV and oropharyngeal cancer, it is important for pediatric dental providers to increase their role in HPV education. As oral cancers are the purview of dentists, practitioners should be involved with their patients’ consideration of the HPV vaccine.
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