Approach of pharmacists and herbalists while offering guidance on potentially malignant oral lesions: A cross-sectional survey
Abhishek Gouraha1, Nilesh Arjun Torwane2, Saurabh Yadav3, Ashish Maheshwari4
1 Department of Oral Pathology, People's Dental Academy, People's University, Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, India
2 Department of Public Health Dentistry, People's Dental Academy, People's University, Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, India
3 Department of Pedodontics and Preventive Dentistry, People's Dental Academy, People's University, Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, India
4 Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, People's Dental Academy, People's University, Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, India
Nilesh Arjun Torwane
Department of Public Health Dentistry, People's Dental Academy, People's University, Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
Objectives: To investigate the approach of both pharmacies and herbalists' shops while offering a proper advice for patients seeking guidance on a potentially malignant oral lesion.
Materials and Methods: A cross-sectional, descriptive study was undertaken using the standardized patient approach on a representative sample of pharmacies and herbalists' shops in Bhopal city. The study sample was selected by stratified random sampling technique and was contacted by telephone. Our patient's introductory statement was, "I have a painful ulceration on the tongue since 3 months. What would you advise?" To avoid the hypothetical bias in telephone answers, another study was designed for two regions of the city, of which pharmacies were visited in one and herbal shops in the other one.
Results: A total of 497 establishments were contacted. Out of these, 368 were pharmacies (74.1%) and 129 were herbalists' shops (25.9%). Patients with potentially malignant lesions were more frequently referred to a dentist (16.03%) or a physician (23.36%) by the pharmacies compared to the herbalists' shops. In contrast, most of the herbalists' shops prescribed over-the counter (OTC) remedies (66.66%) and showed no interest in referring the patient to a dentist or a physician.
Conclusion: Apart from pharmacists, the new probable off-clinical counselors (herbalists and pharmacy assistants) have been identified as potential factors of patient diagnostic delay in oral cancer. Educational strategies to improve advice and referral for these identified groups should be designed.