Human Papillomavirus Content Inclusion in Dental Hygiene Program Curricula in the United States

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3 Scopus citations


Purpose: Human papillomavirus (HPV)-related oropharyngeal cancers (OPC) have significantly increased over the past three decades despite vaccine availability to prevent carcinogenic HPV types. Dental hygienists are well-positioned to provide HPV counsel to patients; however, most do not feel prepared to do so. The purpose of this study was to examine HPV content inclusion in dental hygiene program curricula in the United States (US). Methods: Dental hygiene program directors in the US were invited to participate in an electronic survey (n=309). The 20-item survey assessed the curricular content related to HPV as well as the faculty training in this area. Descriptive statistics were used to analyze the data. Results: Ninety surveys were returned for a response rate of 29%. Most programs spent up to 2 hours on HPV content. Students across all institutional settings received education on OPC risk factors (66.3%); HPV screening, referral, and management (78.7%); HPV vaccine knowledge (79.8%); and communication skills about HPV (77.5%). The majority of HPV-related content was taught by dental hygiene faculty, although dentists, oral pathologists or medical specialists were involved across all institutional settings. Conclusion: Results indicate that dental hygiene programs, regardless of institutional setting, provide two hours or less of HPV didactic content and clinical application. More research is needed to confirm the adequate time and teaching strategies required to assure that dental hygienists are well-prepared to address HPV preventive strategies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)42-49
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of dental hygiene : JDH / American Dental Hygienists' Association
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was funded in part by the University of Minnesota, School of Dentistry, Division of Dental Hygiene.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, American Dental Hygienists Association. All rights reserved.


  • dental hygiene education
  • dental hygienists
  • human papilloma virus
  • oropharyngeal cancer
  • patient education


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