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Year : 2016  |  Volume : 6  |  Issue : 5  |  Page : 465-473

Comparison of views on the need for continuing education on oral cancer between general dentists and oral medicine experts: A Delphi survey

1 Department of Neurosciences, Reproductive and Odontostomatological Sciences, University of Naples Federico II, Naples, Italy
2 Department of Economics and Statistics, University of Naples Federico II, Naples, Italy
3 Department of Oral Medicine, King's College, London Dental Institute, London, UK

Correspondence Address:
S Leuci
Department of Neurosciences, Reproductive and Odontostomatological Sciences, Federico II University of Naples, Via Pansini 5, 80131 Naples
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/2231-0762.192944

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Objectives: The role of dental professionals in screening for oral cancer has been limited. The purpose of this study was to investigate and compare the educational priorities of oral medicine specialists, general dental practitioners, and doctors of dental surgery with regards to the diagnosis and management of oral cancers and potential malignant disorders. Study Design: This was a longitudinal survey. Materials and Methods: A Delphi survey was directed to a panel of 25 oral medicine specialists asking them to identify the major difficulties in diagnosing and managing patients with oral cancer or suspected malignancy. In a second phase, two groups of generalists were asked to express their ratings on the issues identified by experts. Results: The response rate of the experts to the survey was 84%, while only 44% of the generalists participated. Although the three groups agreed on most of the issues, there were significant differences of opinions on 10 of the items proposed by specialists (P < 0.05 from the Kruskal–Wallis test), which were observed mainly between experts and general dental practitioners (P < 0.017 from the Mann–Whitney U test). The opinion of the participants about future investments in the field of education resulted in similar results (P > 0.05 from the Chi-square test), with the specialists ranking highest on mandatory annual thematic courses, while the generalists prioritizing more interactive and extensive pre-graduation courses on oral cancer detection. Conclusion: This study confirms a clear need to improve the educational foundation on oral cancer by a didactic process starting with pre-graduation courses that should involve National Health Care Services, National Dental Associations, and academia.

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