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Barriers and facilitators to discussing HPV with head and neck cancer patients: A qualitative study using the theoretical domains framework

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

M O'Connor, J Waller, P Gallagher, B O'Donovan, N Clarke, I Keogh, D MacCarthy, E O'Sullivan, C Timon, C Martin, J O'Leary, L Sharp

Original languageEnglish
JournalPatient Education and Counseling
E-pub ahead of print30 May 2020

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2020 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

King's Authors


OBJECTIVE: The incidence of human papillomavirus-associated head and neck cancers (HPV-HNC) is increasing worldwide. Research in other clinical contexts has shown that healthcare professionals (HCPs) can find discussing HPV with patients challenging. However, limited research has been conducted in HNC. This study aimed to investigate barriers and facilitators to, discussing HPV among HCPs caring for patients with HNC in Ireland.

METHODS: Semi-structured telephone/face-to-face interviews were conducted with HCPs. Barriers and facilitators to discussing HPV with patients were identified using the Theoretical Domains Framework (TDF).

RESULTS: 20 HCPs (8 clinicians, 3 nurses, 9 allied healthcare professionals) were interviewed. Barriers to discussing HPV included professionals' lack of HPV knowledge, difficulties in talking about sexual issues with patients and lack of privacy to discuss HPV in busy clinic settings. Facilitators included increasing public and patient awareness of the link between HPV and HNC and professional education and skills development.

CONCLUSIONS: This is the first theoretically informed study to identify barriers and facilitators to discussing HPV with HNC patients. HCPs consider HPV discussions to be an essential part of HNC patient care.

PRACTICE IMPLICATIONS: Understanding the issues associated with patient-provider HPV communication will help develop effective interventions to support HCPs in their HPV discussions.

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