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National Survey of Oncology Members’ Knowledge, Education and Patient Management Regarding Oral Care in Cancer Therapy


Rebecca Tranmer ,

Idaho State University, Division of Health Sciences, Office of Medical and Oral Health, Department of Dental Hygiene, 921 S. 8th Ave, Mail Stop 8048, Pocatello, ID, 83209, US
About Rebecca

 RDH, BS, MSDH,  Assistant Professor

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Linda Boyd,

Forsyth School of Dental Hygiene, Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, US
About Linda
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Tara Johnson,

Dental Hygiene, Idaho State University, US
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Bernadette Howlett,

Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences, US
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Denise Bowen,

Dental Hygiene, Idaho State University, US
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Teri Peterson

College of Business, Idaho State University, US
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INTRODUCTION Oral complications can be profound in patients undergoing cancer therapy, negatively impacting quality of life, and potentially postponing or disrupting treatment. While oncology team members seek to deliver optimal oral care, evidence-based management of oral complications and knowledge in the provision of oral care poses a challenge to attaining satisfactory reductions in complications such as oral mucositis, xerostomia and rampant dental caries.

METHODS A cross-sectional, random sample (N=2,000) of members of the Oncology Nursing Society were surveyed via a Web-based questionnaire to identify knowledge of oral care, oral health management practices and factors influencing provision of oral care for patients being treated for cancer. Frequencies were calculated for demographic and categorical data. Education, years of experience, and comfort levels were measured and correlated to identified subscales of knowledge, management of oral complications, and use of evidence-based protocols for high-risk patients.

RESULTS Over 75% of respondents reported some to little oral health content in their primary education. Significant correlations were found between the three subscales and the variables years of experience and comfort levels (p≤0.05). Use of evidence-based protocols and oral management increased with levels of oral healthcare education and years of experience (p≤0.05).

CONCLUSION Results of this investigation suggest a need for the inclusion of more education in general nursing programs addressing oral healthcare of cancer patients, as well as continuing education for practicing oncology professionals. Additionally, findings support the inclusion of dental hygienists, oral health/disease prevention experts, as members of interdisciplinary teams caring for cancer patients.

How to Cite: Tranmer, R., Boyd, L., Johnson, T., Howlett, B., Bowen, D. and Peterson, T., 2013. National Survey of Oncology Members’ Knowledge, Education and Patient Management Regarding Oral Care in Cancer Therapy. Health, Interprofessional Practice and Education, 2(1), p.eP1049. DOI:
Published on 07 Oct 2013.
Peer Reviewed


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