Dental provider practices and perceptions regarding adolescent vaccination

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Abstract

Objective:

To assess dental providers' clinical practices and perceptions regarding adolescent vaccinations.

Methods:

We surveyed 234 dental providers in an integrated health care setting in Portland, Oregon, in March-April 2015. We assessed participants' knowledge of adolescent vaccines, barriers to recommending vaccines, and their perceived role in the promotion of vaccination and preventive medical care.

Results:

Over 80 percent of respondents correctly identified influenza, tetanus-diphtheria-acellular pertussis, and human papillomavirus as vaccinations recommended for adolescents; 60 percent correctly identified meningococcal conjugate. Forty-four percent of providers reported previously discussing vaccination with their adolescent patients. Lack of knowledge (66 percent), uncertainty about whether patients would accept recommendations (62 percent), and lack of time (61 percent) were commonly reported barriers. While few providers expressed personal concerns about the safety (13 percent) and effectiveness (10 percent) of adolescent vaccines, most believed parents had concerns about safety (70 percent) and effectiveness (60 percent). Although 80 percent endorsed the premise that providers should discuss preventive medical care with their patients, only 54 percent said they should discuss vaccinations specifically.

Conclusions:

Dental providers reported several barriers to recommending vaccines. While comfortable with discussing preventive medical care in general, providers are less comfortable making vaccine recommendations to their patients. Vaccine recommendations are not a traditional practice among dental providers and may require additional education and communication tools.

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