An oral cancer information leaflet for smokers in primary care: results from two randomised controlled trials’

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Objectives: To investigate whether primary care patients who claim to smoke tobacco gain greater benefit of a patient information leaflet (PIL) on oral cancer than nonsmokers. Methods: Two studies were conducted. Study 1 examined the research question initially, and Study 2 acted as a replication and inclusion of additional secondary outcome measures. The leaflet was designed and tested in an earlier study. Knowledge of oral cancer was assessed by a previously validated 36-dichotomous-item scale. A single-item question ascertained self-reported smoking status (kappa = 0.94). Study 1 participants were drawn from 14 practices (6 medical, 8 dental). A randomised control group design was adopted. The experimental group received the leaflet on attendance to the practice and then completed the questionnaire. The control group received the questionnaire only. Complete data were collected from 739 respondents. The design of Study 2 was identical; 786 new respondents from 16 practices (7 medical, 9 dental) were collected. Results: Both studies confirmed that smokers knew less about oral cancer than nonsmokers (P < 0.05) when access to the leaflet had been denied. On receipt of the leaflet, there was no distinction in oral cancer knowledge between the smoking status categories of respondents. Evidence of reassurance about screening from leaflet exposure was supported by the second study. Conclusion: This programmed research has demonstrated an effect of a brief PIL to offset the decrement in oral cancer knowledge observed in primary care patients who use tobacco in comparison to their nonsmoking counterparts. The leaflet reduced anxiety about oral health screening in smokers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)143-9
Number of pages7
JournalCommunity Dentistry and Oral Epidemiology
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2004


  • anxiety
  • health awareness
  • oral cancer
  • patient information leaflets
  • screening
  • tobacco smokers


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