North carolina internists' and endocrinologists' knowledge, opinions, and behaviors regarding periodontal disease and diabetes: Need and opportunity for interprofessional education

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The aim of this study was to determine the knowledge and practice behaviors of one state's internists and endocrinologists who treat patients with any type of diabetes. A thirty-five-item questionnaire was mailed to 1,000 internists and 115 endocrinologists in North Carolina. Questions were open and closed ended and Likert-scaled. Descriptive statistics and bivariate analysis were utilized. The response rate was 34 percent (N=378). The overall usable response rate was 23 percent (N=254). Over half of the respondents (66 percent) were males. Internists' and endocrinologists' knowledge about periodontal disease was high. The majority of the respondents agreed that physicians should be taught about periodontal disease (88 percent) and should be trained to screen for periodontal disease in their patients (78 percent). However, when asked if they are confident in providing an oral health screening for their patients, the responses were evenly distributed from strongly agree to strongly disagree. This study suggests that internists and endocrinologists have some knowledge about oral health and believe that there is a link between periodontal disease and diabetes mellitus; however, the majority do not have sufficient familiarity with the studies that link periodontal disease and diabetes mellitus. They agree with the idea of collaboration with dental professionals to reduce the number of patients at risk for developing periodontal disease. Perhaps the time is conducive to promote interprofessional education and collaboration between medical and dental health care providers to prepare for the future increase in patient and treatment needs.

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