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British Columbia dentists’ perceptions & practices on HPV vaccinations Coyne, Michael Thomas Louis


Introduction: Oropharyngeal cancer impacts quality of life negatively, has a costly treatment and a poor 5-year survival prognosis. Risk factors include tobacco, alcohol, and genetics. But in up to 28% of the cases, Human Papillomavirus (HPV) has been implicated in the development of oropharyngeal cancers. One way to prevent HPV infections, and to potentially decrease the incidence of oropharyngeal cancers, is through vaccination. Purpose: i. To investigate whether BC dentists believe administering the Gardasil® vaccine is within their scope of practice. ii. To investigate if BC dentists are willing to administer the Gardasil® vaccine within the target demographic of their practices. iii. To explore the perceptions and practices of BC dentists regarding discussing HPV in the dental practice setting. Materials & Methods: A survey was constructed consisting of 14 questions pertaining to demographics, scope of practice, barriers to discussing the HPV vaccine, willingness to engage in HPV vaccine practices, and willingness to collaborate with primary care providers in HPV vaccine practices. A partnership with the BCDA was established to disseminate a questionnaire-based survey via a URL link on April 1st, 2021, in the form of a routine bi-weekly electronic email update to enrollees. Pearson chi-squared tests of independence were conducted on the captured data with two-tailed significance determined by a P <0.05. Results: A total of 201 surveys were completed. 168 respondents (83.6%) agreed discussing the link between HPV and oropharyngeal cancer falls within the scope of practice, with agreement declining when asked about recommending (74.1%) and administering (38.8%) the HPV vaccine. Respondents reported willingness to educate (87.6%) and refer (91.5%) patients to receive HPV vaccines however remain unwilling to administer (only 53.7% willing) the vaccine within the dental office setting. Respondents were willing to educate patients on HPV and oropharyngeal cancer but were either willing or unwilling to discuss sexual history and related topics within the dental setting (p=0.02). Conclusion: Survey respondents were unwilling to administer the HPV vaccine within the dental setting as they perceived the act to fall outside their scope of practice. There remains a reluctance to engage in the inoculation effort within the dental setting.

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