Oral cancer screening and dental care use among women from Ohio appalachia

P. L. Reiter, A. G. Wee, A. Lehman, E. D. Paskett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Residents of Appalachia may benefit from oral cancer screening given the region's higher oral and pharyngeal cancer mortality rates. The current study examined the oral cancer screening behaviors and recent dental care (since dentists perform most screening examinations) of women from Ohio Appalachia. Methods: Women from Ohio Appalachia were surveyed for the Community Awareness Resources Education (CARE) study, which was completed in 2006. A secondary aim of the CARE baseline survey was to examine oral cancer screening and dental care use among women from this region. Outcomes included whether women (n=477; cooperation rate = 71%) had ever had an oral cancer screening examination and when their most recent dental visit had occurred. Various demographic characteristics, health behaviors and psychosocial factors were examined as potential correlates. Analyses used multivariate logistic regression. Results: Most women identified tobacco-related products as risk factors for oral cancer, but 43% of women did not know an early sign of oral cancer. Only 15% of women reported ever having had an oral cancer screening examination, with approximately 80% of these women indicating that a dentist had performed their most recent examination. Women were less likely to have reported a previous examination if they were from urban areas (OR=0.33, 95% CI: 0.13-0.85) or perceived a lower locus of health control (OR=0.94, 95% CI: 0.89-0.98). Women were more likely to have reported a previous examination if they had had a dental visit within the last year (OR=2.24, 95% CI: 1.03-4.88). Only 65% of women, however, indicated a dental visit within the last year. Women were more likely to have reported a recent dental visit if they were of a high socioeconomic status (OR=2.83, 95% CI:1.58-5.06), had private health insurance (OR=2.20, 95% CI: 1.21-3.97) or had consumed alcohol in the last month (OR=2.03, 95% CI: 1.20-3.42). Conclusion: Oral cancer screening was not common among women from Ohio Appalachia, with many missed opportunities having occurred at dental visits. Education programs targeting dentists and other healthcare providers (given dental providers are lacking in some areas of Ohio Appalachia) about opportunistic oral cancer screening may help to improve screening in Appalachia. These programs should include information about populations at high risk for oral cancer (eg smokers) and how screening may be especially beneficial for them. Future research is needed to examine the acceptability of such education programs to healthcare providers in the Appalachian region and to explore why screening was less common among women living in urban areas of Ohio Appalachia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2184
JournalRural and remote health
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Appalachia
  • Oral Cancer
  • Screening
  • USA


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