King’s College London’s Dental Institute has researched and piloted an oral cancer communication guide to help dentists talk to their patients about what can be a difficult subject.
Prior to the pilot of the oral cancer communication guide, researchers found that many dentists were low in confidence when it came to broaching the subject of oral cancer to their patients. Despite oral cancer checks being routinely carried out during regular dental appointments, many dentists avoided the topic altogether. King’s College developed the pilot program aimed to reverse this reluctance. 41 dentists were invited to the King’s College lecture theatre to take part in a training session which included: “a brief update on oral cancer, an introduction to the oral cancer communication guide, and learning activities and chances to practise using the guide through roleplay and feedback.”
The session has been deemed a success, with an increase from the dentists taking part reporting an increase in confidence. The number of dentists informing patients they were being checked for signs of oral cancer increased from 16% to 44% after the training.
“The guide includes key messages in an easy-to-follow format. It is not intended to be used as a script, but rather to be used as a guide for interactive discussions about symptoms, the importance of early detection, and when and where to seek help should symptoms occur,” explains Professor Tim Newton, co-author of the study. “Highlighting the need for training in this area, this study has shown that the training sessions had a positive impact on the dentists’ self-reported behaviour and indicates a positive response to the guide as well.”
Study shows that specialist training guide for dentists can aid communications about oral cancer with patients [via King’s College London]