The Role of Dental Providers in Preventing HPV-Related Diseases: A Systems Perspective

Ellen M. Daley, Cheryl A. Vamos, Erika Thompson, Coralia Vázquez-Otero, Stacey B. Griner, Laura Merrell, Nolan Kline, Kimberly Walker, Annelise Driscoll, John Petrila

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Successfully educating dental providers and patients about the link between human papillomavirus (HPV) and oropharyngeal cancer requires coordinated efforts to increase HPV-related prevention practices. The aim of this study was to identify, using a systems perspective, the multi-level determinants related to how dental providers can promote HPV prevention in dental practices. Data for this qualitative study were collected in 2015-16 from focus groups with dentists (four focus groups, n=33), focus groups with dental hygienists (four focus groups, n=48), and in-depth interviews with dental opinion leaders (n=13). Results were triangulated and mapped along micro, meso, and macro system levels. At the micro level, participants identified patient characteristics and low self-efficacy as influential determinants when discussing HPV prevention. At the meso level, relationships among dentists, dental hygienists, and the physical practice environment were factors affecting dental providers' HPV prevention efforts. At the macro level, professional organizations impacted how dental providers interacted with their patients on this topic. These results suggest that improving HPV prevention among dental providers requires a multi-level approach that considers the distinctive context of dental settings, dental training, and perceptions of professional roles. The findings suggested that the macro- and meso-level determinants may be challenging to modify due to the distinctive culture and practice models of dentistry. Nevertheless, the association between HPV and oral cancer requires an expansion of prevention strategies used in dental practices. Improving dental providers' self-efficacy to communicate HPV prevention through continuing education and integration of skill-guided training in dental and dental hygiene curricula could facilitate this process.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)161-172
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Dental Education
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2019


  • HPV
  • HPV prevention strategies
  • HPV-related oropharyngeal cancer
  • dental hygienists
  • dental practice
  • dental practice
  • dentists
  • public health dentistry
  • systems perspective


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