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J Dent Educ. 2019 Jan;83(1):39-47. doi: 10.21815/JDE.019.005.

Extent of Elder Abuse Training in Dental Hygiene Curricula and Program Directors' Perceptions of Importance of and Barriers to Implementation.

Author information

1
Rebel L. Chapa, MSDH, RDH, is Instructor, Department of Dental Hygiene, Tarrant County College, and was an MSDH student, UT Health San Antonio at the time of this study; Beatriz M. Hicks, MA, RDH, is Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Periodontics, UT Health San Antonio; Thomas J. Prihoda, PhD, is Professor, Department of Pathology, UT Health San Antonio; Lynn A. Smiley, MEd, RDH, is Clinical Assistant Professor, Department of Periodontics, UT Health San Antonio; Lisa M. Englehart, MSDH, RDH, is Associate Professor, Department of Dental Hygiene, Tarrant County College; and Melanie V. Taverna, MSDH, RDH, is Director of Dental Hygiene Online Graduate Programs and Assistant Professor/Clinical Faculty, Department of Periodontics, UT Health San Antonio. rebel.chapa@tccd.edu.
2
Rebel L. Chapa, MSDH, RDH, is Instructor, Department of Dental Hygiene, Tarrant County College, and was an MSDH student, UT Health San Antonio at the time of this study; Beatriz M. Hicks, MA, RDH, is Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Periodontics, UT Health San Antonio; Thomas J. Prihoda, PhD, is Professor, Department of Pathology, UT Health San Antonio; Lynn A. Smiley, MEd, RDH, is Clinical Assistant Professor, Department of Periodontics, UT Health San Antonio; Lisa M. Englehart, MSDH, RDH, is Associate Professor, Department of Dental Hygiene, Tarrant County College; and Melanie V. Taverna, MSDH, RDH, is Director of Dental Hygiene Online Graduate Programs and Assistant Professor/Clinical Faculty, Department of Periodontics, UT Health San Antonio.

Abstract

Research published in 2002 reported limited elder abuse training in U.S. dental hygiene curricula although its importance has increased with an aging population. The aims of this study were to determine the current extent of elder abuse training in U.S. dental hygiene curricula and to explore dental hygiene program directors' perspectives on the topic. A 25-item online survey was distributed to all 361 program directors, coordinators, and/or department chairs of Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA)-accredited dental hygiene programs via email in August 2017. A response rate of 27.2% (n=98) was achieved. A large percentage of the respondents (83.3%) included elder abuse training in their program curricula; for most (58.7%), one to three curriculum hours were spent on the topic. A large percentage (89%) agreed the topic was at least somewhat important to include, and 29.5% said a personal or professional elder abuse experience influenced the depth of instruction at their program. Various barriers to inclusion were identified. At least 40% of these educators perceived their graduates to be appropriately competent in their ability to recognize elders' oral neglect (63.5%) and general neglect (48.7%) and to document potential signs of elder abuse (43.8%). Lower percentages perceived that their graduates were competent in the areas of communication regarding elder abuse (21.9%) and reporting suspected abuse (32.4%). Despite rising awareness about elder abuse among dental hygienists and widespread incorporation of the subject in dental hygiene curricula, these results suggest that there are still deficiencies in training. To prepare dental hygiene graduates to confidently recognize and respond to elder abuse, educators should seek to overcome barriers by modifying instruction and embracing interprofessional collaboration.

KEYWORDS:

allied dental education; dental hygiene curricula; dental hygiene education; domestic abuse; elder abuse; elder neglect; family violence; geriatric dentistry; gerontology

PMID:
30600248
DOI:
10.21815/JDE.019.005

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