The Development of Dental Informatics of Oral Cancer Screening for Prevention in Community Level: A Prototype Study in Thailand

Document Type : Research Articles


1 Faculty of Public Health, Mahidol University, Thailand.

2 Faculty of Dentistry, Mahidol University, Thailand.

3 Independent Scholar, Thailand.


Objective: The purpose of this study is to identify general dentists’ information needs for oral cancer screening in community and the information sources they use to meet those needs in clinical settings so as to inform the design of dental information systems. Methods: A semi-structured interview was conducted with a convenience sample of 8 general dentists and 5 dental assistant in the Public Health Region 9 area during clinical hours. One hundred and five patient cases were reported by these dentists. Interview transcripts were coded and analyzed using thematic analysis with a constant comparative method to identify categories and themes regarding information needs and information source use patterns. Results: Two top-level categories of information needs were identified: foreground and background information needs. To meet these needs, dentists used four types of information sources: clinical information/tasks, risk factor of oral cancer in general people, surveillance in community and referral to oral cancer treatment. Major themes of dentists’ unmet information needs include: (1) timely access to information on various subjects; (2) better visual representations of dental problems; (3) access to patient-specific evidence-based information; and (4) accurate, complete and consistent documentation of patient records. Resource use patterns include: (1) dentists information needs matched information source use; (2) little use of electronic sources took place during treatment; (3) source use depended on the nature and complexity of the dental problems; and (4) dentists and dental nurse routinely practiced cross-referencing to verify patient information. Conclusions: Dentists have various information needs of oral cancer at the point of care. For future development of dental information or clinical decision support systems, developers should consider integrating high-quality, up-to-date clinical evidence into comprehensive and easily accessible EDRs as well as supporting dentists’ resource use patterns as identified in the study.


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