Awareness of the role of HPV in the development of oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma (OPSCC) continues to be low among students, trainees, and clinical providers across specialties. We have developed a virtual HPV educational workshop that in pilot groups has been shown to successfully and significantly improve awareness of head and neck manifestations and sequelae of HPV infections. The objective of this study is to validate the efficacy of this virtual, interdisciplinary workshop in improving HPV knowledge and vaccination practices among providers.
Methods: A virtual platform was utilized to hold HPV educational workshops with dental students, pediatric dental residents, and primary care trainees (residents in pediatrics, family medicine, and the internal medicine department’s primary care track) across Southern California and Southern Nevada. Online surveys were distributed immediately before, and 1-2 weeks after the 1-hour interactive, virtual HPV workshop, which was led by otolaryngology residents. Surveys included specific questions to assess the workshop’s impact on: (a) improving knowledge of the role of HPV in OPSCC, and (b) changing provider vaccination practices. The vaccination rates of the internal medicine residents were recorded from 2016 to 2021, including data from before and after attendance at the workshop.
Results: Nine HPV workshops were held (total > 80 trainees), who responded to the pre-course survey: 67% were fully HPV vaccinated, 68% were female, and 43% were >30 years old. After the workshop, participants demonstrated significantly improved scores relating to knowledge of the most common HPV cancers (p=0.003) and expressed increased comfort with counseling patients on HPV vaccination (p=0.002). Respondents were also more aware that the HPV vaccine is approved to prevent OPSCC (61% vs. 95%, p<0.05). 97.2% of respondents stated that the workshop changed their HPV vaccination practices, and 95.5% of those not fully vaccinated stated they would now be more likely to receive the vaccine themselves. There was a significant increase in the average number of HPV vaccines administered at internal medicine clinics per month from 16.8 vaccines/month to 37.6 vaccines/month (percent increase = 123%) in the five months following the workshop (p=0.002). The quarter immediately following the workshop yielded the highest number of HPV vaccines given in a single quarter from all available data dating back to 2016. During this time period, the number of administered TDAP, influenza, and meningococcal vaccines remained relatively unchanged.
Conclusions: Our interactive virtual workshop has shown great efficacy in improving HPV knowledge and vaccination practices among providers. This course fosters an interprofessional understanding of the role of HPV in OPSCC and subsequently strengthens recommendations for HPV vaccination. The “virtual platform” underlying this course naturally allows it to serve as a pilot for larger, multi-institutional international partnerships to facilitate knowledge transfer regarding medical education and vaccination efforts all across the globe.