Objective: To analyse the provision of oral cancer (OC) care services in the Dental Specialties Centers (Centros de Especialidades Odontológicas-CEO) in Brazil and identify changes over two cycles of external evaluation of the Program for the Improvement of Access and Quality-PMAQ, in 2014 and 2018.
Method: This is a nationwide panel ecological study, including 916 CEO. Data from interviews with managers and dentists of the CEO were used, including variables related to training on OC, clinical protocols, biopsies, referral for diagnosis and treatment, and registration of users with OC. We carried out Latent Transition Analysis (LTA) to identify patterns (latent status LS) of service adequacy and work processes' changes between the two assessment cycles. We tested models with three, four, and five LS, selecting the one with the best conceptual interpretability and good model fit parameters. Data from the LS were plotted on choropleth and hotspots maps in Brazil allowing us to identify areas with the better or worse provision of specialized OC services.
Results: The model with four LS was chosen. The four LS were named: 1.'Most indicators inadequate for OC care' (the worst); 2. 'Most indicators suitable for OC care' (the best); 3. 'CEO with a poor relation with Primary Health Care (PHC) services'; and 4. 'CEO with a poor relation with tertiary hospital services'. The comparison of the LS transition between the two cycles revealed that 419 (45.7%) CEO remained in the same LS (1→1, 3→4, 2→2); 228 (24.9%) switched to a worse status (2→1, 2→4, 3→1) and 269 (29.4%) switched to a better LS (1→2, 1→4, 3→2). While the majority of the CEO improved, we identified a decline of 17.8% in those who reported performing biopsies and 18.3% in the number of CEO that had hospitals for referring confirmed OC cases. Almost all Brazilian states had CEO that improved the work process. The Southeast and South regions had the highest percentage of CEO with the better work process in both cycles. Hotspots showed areas concentrating improvements in the work process in the Northeast region. However, some hotspots in the North revealed some CEO where the work process deteriorated or remained unsatisfactory.
Conclusions: There are regional inequities in the provision of OC care in CEO. Most services improved their work process or remained stable. However, the biopsies and the referral to hospital care for confirmed cases declined, indicating that CEO need to improve planning and care provision to reduce OC morbimortality.
Keywords: epidemiologic studies; mouth neoplasms; oral cancer; quality of health care; secondary care centers.
© 2021 The Authors. Community Dentistry and Oral Epidemiology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.