Background: Individuals with developmental disabilities (DD) experience poorer dental health than the general population. They have limited access to health care services and face barriers to maintaining good oral health. Dental schools provide minimal didactic and clinical training to prepare their students to manage individuals with disabilities. As a result, future dentists may not feel well prepared to provide dental care to these individuals.
Objective: This study was conducted to compare the attitudes of senior dental students at the Faculty of Dentistry at King Abdulaziz University (KAU), in Jeddah, in Saudi Arabia, and students at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine (TUSDM) in Boston, in the United States. The authors also aimed to determine if there was an association between pre-doctoral training in treating individuals with special needs, and having positive attitudes toward providing dental care to individuals with DD.
Methods: The authors surveyed 617 senior dental students at both schools using a 40-item online survey questionnaire. The questionnaire asked students about their experiences with individuals with DD, their pre-doctoral education in managing these individuals, and their attitudes toward these individuals. Data was analyzed using Chi-square tests, Independent Sample t-tests, Mann-Whitney U tests, and Spearman's rank correlation coefficient tests.
Results: Only 214 students responded to the online survey, with a response rate of 34.6%. Seventy six respondents (36.7%) were TUSDM students with a response rate of 21.2%, and 131 respondents (63.3%) were KAU students with a response rate of 50.8%. Only 15 (11.6%) of KAU students, compared to 64 (86.5%) of TUSDM students (p<0.001), reported treating an individual with a DD. Seventy one (58.2%) of KAU students, compared to only 10 (13.5%) of TUSDM (p<0.001), reported not receiving any training in treating individuals with DD. Fifty six (57.1%) of KAU students, compared to only 15 (20.3%) of TUSDM students (p<0.001), reported that their education had not prepared them effectively to treat individuals with DD. There was a significant difference in the attitudes between students at KAU and students at TUSDM. Students at TUSDM had more positive attitudes, compared to students at KAU. Fifty six (45.9%) of the KAU students, compared to 47 (67.2%) of the TUSDM students (p=0.047), "strongly disagreed" or "disagreed" that they would not desire individuals with DD in their practice. Forty two (34.4%) of the KAU students, compared to 60 (85.7%) of the TUSDM students (p<0.001), "strongly disagreed" or "disagreed" that dental services for individuals with DD should only be provided in a hospital.
Discussion: Students at TUSDM had more positive attitudes toward individuals with DD, compared to KAU students. These differences in the attitudes may be attributed to the significant differences in students' experiences, education, and training in treating individuals with DD at both schools.
Conclusions: There is a significant difference in the attitudes between students at TUSDM and students at KAU. There is an association between pre-doctoral training in treating individuals with special needs, and having positive attitudes toward providing dental care to individuals with DD.
|Advisor:||Morgan, John P.|
|Commitee:||Loo, Cheen Y., Stark, Paul C., Wright, Wanda G.|
|School:||Tufts University School of Dental Medicine|
|School Location:||United States -- Massachusetts|
|Source:||MAI 52/02M(E), Masters Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Dentistry, Health education|
|Keywords:||Access to care, Dental education, Dental students attitudes, Dentistry, Developmental disabilities, Oral health disparities, Saudi Arabia|
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