Journal of Cancer Education

, Volume 33, Issue 2, pp 359–364 | Cite as

Knowledgeability, Attitude and Behavior of Primary Care Providers Towards Oral Cancer: a Pilot Study

  • Neel Shimpi
  • Aditi Bharatkumar
  • Monica Jethwani
  • Po-Huang Chyou
  • Ingrid Glurich
  • Jake Blamer
  • Amit Acharya


The objective of this study was to assess current knowledgeability, attitudes, and practice behaviors of primary care providers (PCPs) towards oral cancer screening. Applying a cross-sectional design, a 14-question survey was emailed to 307 PCPs practicing at a large, multi-specialty, rurally based healthcare system. Survey data were collected and managed using REDCap and analyzed applying descriptive statistics. A 20 % response rate (n = 61/307) was achieved for survey completion. Approximately 70 % of respondents were physicians, 16 % were nurse practitioners, and 13 % were physician assistants. Nearly 60 % of respondents were family medicine practitioners. Limited training surrounding oral cancer screening during medical training was reported by 64 %. Although 78 % of respondents reported never performing oral cancer screening on patients in their practice, >90 % answered knowledge-based questions correctly. Frequency rate for specialist referral for suspicious lesions by PCPs was 56 % “frequently”. Optimal periodicity for oral cancer screening on all patients selected by respondents was 61 % “annually”, 3 % “every 6 months”, 3 % “every visit”, 2 % “not at all”, and 31 % “unsure”. This study established a baseline surrounding current knowledgeability, practice patterns, and opinions of PCPs towards oral cancer screening at a single, large, regional healthcare system. In the absence of evidence-based support for population-based cancer screening, this study result suggests a need for better integration of oral cancer surveillance into the medical setting, supplemented by education and training with emphasis on assessment of high-risk patients to achieve early detection. Prospectively, larger studies are needed to validate these findings.


Mouth neoplasms Patient care team Health knowledge, attitudes, practice Healthcare surveys Interdisciplinary health team 



The authors thank Cathy Schneider from the Biomedical Informatics Research Center for her assistance with formatting the survey tool and preparation of the data sets for analysis. The authors would also like to thank Dixie Schroeder from Institute for Oral and Systemic Health and Debra Kempf from Division of Education of Marshfield Clinic for their coordination in the project.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Ethical Approval

The study was classified as “exempt” under section 45 CFR 46.101(b) (2) by the Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation Institutional Review Board (IRB).


The study described in this article was supported, in part, by a grant from Delta Dental of Wisconsin, funds from Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation (MCRF), Institute for Oral and Systemic Health, Division of Education and Family Health Center of Marshfield.


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Copyright information

© American Association for Cancer Education 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Oral and Systemic HealthMarshfield Clinic Research FoundationMarshfieldUSA
  2. 2.Family Health Center of MarshfieldMarshfieldUSA
  3. 3.Division of EducationMarshfield Clinic Research FoundationMarshfieldUSA
  4. 4.Biomedical Informatics Research CenterMarshfield Clinic Research FoundationMarshfieldUSA

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