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Dental Students' Clinical Expectations and Experiences Treating Persons with Disabilities.

Perusini DJ, et al. J Dent Educ. 2016.


Persons with disabilities (PWDs) have a disproportionate level of dental disease relative to the general population. Access to care is a cause along with dentists' willingness to treat PWDs. The aim of this study was to investigate the expectations and experiences of dental students in providing treatment to these patients in a hospital-based dental clinic for PWDs. Senior dental students at the Faculty of Dentistry, University of Toronto (n=92) were surveyed prior to (Phase I) and at the end of (Phase II) mandatory clinical rotations at the Mount Sinai Hospital's Dentistry Clinic for Persons with Special Needs. Response rates were 88% for Phase I and 58% for Phase II. Before the rotations, 70% of the respondents reported little or no experience with PWDs, and 46% said they did not feel comfortable providing basic dental treatment to PWDs. However, in Phase II, significantly more students reported being comfortable than in Phase I (p=0.001). Overall, the majority of respondents (Phase I 95%; Phase II 98%) indicated they would at least attempt to provide basic dental care to PWDs after graduation. The majority also identified the opportunity to provide care and interact with PWDs as the most enjoyable aspect of their experience at the clinic. They reported that the experience helped reduce their concerns about treating PWDs including being more realistic about the time required and ideal quality of the treatment they could provide. These results suggest that their experience in the clinic significantly increased students' comfort in treating PWDs. The respondents expressed a willingness to treat PWDs once graduated and generally identified their experience as being more positive than their expectations.


26933105 [Indexed for MEDLINE]

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