King's College London

Research portal

Barriers and Triggers to Seeking Help for Potentially Malignant Oral Symptoms: Implications for Interventions

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)34 - 40
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Public Health Dentistry
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2009

King's Authors


Objectives: The detection of oral cancer at an early stage is the most effective means to improve survival and reduce morbidity. However, approximately 30 percent of patients delay seeking help for more than 3 months following the self-discovery of symptoms of oral cancer. This study aimed to increase our understanding of patient delay to inform the development of interventions to encourage early presentation of oral cancer. Methods: Newly referred patients (n = 57) with potentially malignant oral symptoms were interviewed to determine influences on the timing of their decision to seek help. "Framework analysis" was used to analyze transcripts from semi-structured interviews. Results: Barriers to seeking help related to beliefs about symptoms, the health care professional (HCP), and an individual's circumstances. The main triggers to seeking help included the symptomatology and the presence of another reason for visiting an HCP. Conclusions: The results are discussed with reference to their implications for interventions aimed at reducing patient delay.

View graph of relations

© 2018 King's College London | Strand | London WC2R 2LS | England | United Kingdom | Tel +44 (0)20 7836 5454