Dental patients' communication preferences for learning about HPV-related topics

Gen Dent. 2023 Jan-Feb;71(1):38-43.


Oropharyngeal cancer (OPC) has the highest incidence of any cancer caused by human papillomavirus (HPV). Oral health providers are urged to support the use of the HPV vaccine, which was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for the prevention of OPC in 2020. This study evaluated the preferences of dental patients regarding 11 modalities for learning about HPV-related topics from their oral health providers. An online survey was administered to US adults aged 18 to 45 years (n = 285) to assess their communication modality preferences, prior experience discussing HPV with oral health providers, and demographic characteristics. Multiple items were combined to obtain preference scores for each modality. Preference scores were compared using 2 × 3 mixed analysis of variance. Age, sex, income, and HPV vaccination status were assessed as potential confounders. One-on-one discussions were the most preferred modality for learning about HPV-related topics; however, the preference scores differed based on whether the patient had prior HPV-related discussions with oral health providers (partial η2 = 0.054). Patients who had prior discussions showed a weaker preference for one-on-one discussions than did patients who had not had prior discussions. Oral health providers are called on to promote HPV vaccination, which will require increasing communication on this subject with patients. To assure greater acceptance of their recommendations, providers will need to match their communication styles to those desired by their patients. As part of a comprehensive HPV prevention strategy that includes administration of the vaccine, oral health providers should be educated on how to confidently discuss HPV-related issues with their patients.

Keywords: HPV-related oropharyngeal cancer; communication; human papilloma virus; oral health providers; patient preference; vaccination.

MeSH terms

  • Communication
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Human Papillomavirus Viruses
  • Humans
  • Oropharyngeal Neoplasms*
  • Papillomavirus Infections* / complications
  • Papillomavirus Infections* / prevention & control
  • Papillomavirus Vaccines* / therapeutic use
  • Vaccination


  • Papillomavirus Vaccines