Who is the Dental Consumer? Dental Hygiene Students' Perspective

Authors: Barnes, W. Gail; Arruda, Janice

Source: Journal of Dental Hygiene, 1 October 2007, vol. 81, no. 4, pp. 111-111(1)


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"To increase the proportion of children and adults who use the oral healthcare system each year by 83%" was the target goal set for Objective 10 during the Healthy People 2010 conference. At the end of the dental public health class, a survey was administered to the senior hygiene students (N=27) to determine who they perceived to be the dental consumer. The response rate was 100%. The survey consisted of quantitative questions (5 point Likert-type scale) and qualitative open-ended questions (to help with interpretation of the qualitative results) and was downloaded on the course's Assessment section of the Blackboard site. The mean for each question was automatically calculated by Blackboard. The hygiene students reported that "adults" were most likely to seek and receive dental care (N=11,42%) and "children" were 37% (N=9) likely to receive dental care. Conversely, the population category that the students reported that they perceived would least likely receive dental care was the "elderly" (N=23,84%); followed by "teenagers" (N=3,11%).

The results of the survey indicated that the dental hygiene students' perceptions and target goal of Objective 10 of Healthy People 2010 were significantly opposed. The researchers believe that creating opportunities for access to care will help bridge the divide that exists in regard to dental need. Future studies would be beneficial to investigate dental hygiene students' and their perceived role as practicing hygienists in addressing the issue of access to dental care. Also of interest would be a longitudinal study, at five year intervals, of practicing dental hygienists and their efforts in bridging the population gap of those receiving dental care.

Document Type: Abstract

Publication date: October 1, 2007

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