Presentation Blocks: 03-22-2018 - Thursday - 11:00 AM - 12:15 PM

Title: Oral Health Students' Knowledge Levels Regarding HPV Related Oropharyngeal Cancer


Holdunn Rutkoski (Presenter)
University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Barbara Dixon, University of Utah
Lilliam Pinzon, University of Utah - Salt Lake City
James Winkler, University of Utah
Djin Lai, Huntsman Cancer Institute
Deanna Kepka, Huntsman Cancer Institute


Objectives: This study developed, pilot tested, and implemented an assessment tool capable of analyzing senior dental hygiene, third year dental (DS3), and fourth year dental (DS4) students’ (oral health students) knowledge levels regarding Human Papillomavirus (HPV) related oropharyngeal cancer (OPC) in the United States.

Methods: To assess student HPV, HPV-OPC, HPV vaccination, and overall knowledge levels, 20 different dental program were recruited to implement a 57 item assessment tool over a two month period. Subsequently, results and research objectives were assessed.

Results: Out of the 15 participating programs, hundreds of oral health students completed the assessment tool. The majority of respondents were from California, DS3 class standing, female, aged 18 to 29 years old, white, of Christian faith, and had at least a bachelor’s degree. Preliminary results suggest that oral health students have adequate knowledge levels regarding general HPV topics, but inadequate knowledge levels overall, concerning HPV-OPC, and HPV vaccinations.

Conclusions: Despite public health’s best efforts, the prevalence of HPV-OPC is increasing even though the rates of tobacco and alcohol related OPCs are decreasing. Assessing oral health student knowledge is important as they will be the ones diagnosing OPC in the future. The results of this study may help guide curriculum changes, change how new dental professionals interact with patients, and ultimately reduce the HPV-OPC burden.