Term of Award

Fall 2014

Degree Name

Doctor of Public Health in Community Health Behavior and Education (Dr.P.H.)

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (restricted to Georgia Southern)

Department

Jiann-Ping Hsu College of Public Health

Committee Chair

Moya Alfonso

Committee Member 1

Gulzar Shah

Committee Member 2

Ashley Walker

Abstract

Oral cancer is a significant public health problem; however, there is lack of awareness at community level regarding oral cancer. Considering the importance of public health education, which educates people regarding prevention of disease and promotion of health, public health professionals can play a significant role in raising awareness in order to prevent oral cancer. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to explore the level of knowledge, attitudes toward, and behavioral intentions about oral cancer among public health students in southeast Georgia.

A sequential exploratory mixed-method research design was employed for this study. Using quantitative and qualitative measures, a survey was administered to 129 students enrolled for master in public health (MPH) with major in community health and bachelors of Science in public health (BSPH) with major in health education and promotion. Then, follow-up focus groups were conducted with 18 students who responded to the survey. Multiple regression was used to determine associations among knowledge, attitudes and behavioral intentions.

Study results revealed that there is lack of knowledge about oral cancer among public health students. However, there is no statistically significant association between behavioral intention to engage in oral cancer prevention and knowledge levels. Students had positive attitudes towards oral cancer prevention. Further, they suggested that public health colleges should include oral cancer/ oral health in curriculum and this information should be discussed in classes. The findings of this study can be used to increase the knowledge and motivation of public health students in order to engage them in oral cancer prevention programs. Finally, this study should be replicated with a more geographically, ethnically, and gender diverse population.

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