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The use of the Internet to access oral health-related information by patients attending dental hygiene clinics

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Int J Dent Hygiene3, 2005; 70–73

Harris CE, Chestnutt IG:

The use of the Internet to access oral health-related information by patients attending dental hygiene clinics

Abstract:  Background: 

The degree to which patients access the Internet for oral health-related information is unknown. Objectives: 

This study was designed to determine if patients attending student dental hygiene clinics had: (1) accessed the Internet, (2) used the Internet as a source of information on both general health and oral health, (3) bought oral health care products on-line, and (4) were interested in being directed to appropriate on-line oral health resources by dental professionals. Methods: 

A self-complete questionnaire was administered to a quota sample of 280 new and returning patients attending the student dental hygiene clinic at either the Cardiff Dental Hospital or a nearby Primary Dental Care Unit. Results: 

A total of 269 (96%) patients consented to participate in the study. Of these, 147 (54.6%) had accessed the Internet, the majority (61.2%) from home. Internet use was significantly related to both patient age and level of education (P < 0.001). In total, 59 patients claimed accessing the Internet for information on general health topics. Only eight respondents had used the Internet for information on oral health/dental topics, with seven reporting that they found the information useful. On-line purchase of oral health products was reported by seven patients. However, 117 (43.5% of all respondents) patients indicated that they would be interested in the Internet as a future source of oral health information and 112 (41.6%) would appreciate being directed to appropriate sites by their dentist or dental hygienist. Conclusions: 

Patients attending student dental hygiene clinics make little use of the Internet for oral health information. However, reported interest in future access is such that dental professionals should develop and harness the potential of the Internet as an educational resource.
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Keywords: Internet; dental hygienists; health knowledge attitudes practice; patient education; periodontology

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: May 1, 2005

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