An assessment of oral cancer curricula in dental hygiene programmes: implications for cancer control
PublisherBlackwell Publishing Inc.
MetadataShow full item record
Purpose: To assess oral cancer prevention and early detection curricula in Illinois associate- degree dental hygiene programs and highlight global health applications. Methods: An email invitation was sent to each Illinois associate-degree granting dental hygiene program’s oral cancer contact to participate in a survey via a SurveyMonkey TM link to a 21-item questionnaire. Questions elicited background information on each program and inquired about curriculum and methods used for teaching oral cancer prevention and early detection. Results: Eight of the 12 (67%) programs responded. Three (37.5%) reported having a specific oral cancer curriculum. Five (62.5%) require students to perform examinations for signs and symptoms of oral cancer at each clinic visit. Variations exist across the programs in the number of patients each student sees annually and the number of oral cancer exams each student performs before graduation. Seven programs (87.5%) conduct early detection screening in community settings. All programs included risk assessment associated with tobacco. All other risk factors measured were treated inconsistently. Conclusion: Significant differences in training and experience were reported across Illinois dental hygiene programs. Training is neither standardized nor uniformly comprehensive. Students’ preparation for delivering prevention and early detection services to their patients could be strengthened to ensure competence including reflection of risk factors and behaviors in a global context. Regular review of curricular guidelines and program content would help dental hygienists meet the expectations of the Crete Declaration on Oral Cancer Prevention.