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J Dent Hyg. 2010 Spring;84(2):94-102. Epub 2010 Mar 19.

Factors affecting North Carolina dental hygienists' confidence in providing obesity education and counseling.

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Dental Hygiene Program, Georgia Perimeter College, Atlanta, Georgia, USA.



Obesity is a major public health issue in the United States. Dental hygienists influence their patients' oral health by providing dietary and behavioral recommendations that encourage good oral health practices. However, it is not known if they are ready to provide behavioral counseling strategies for weight loss. This study investigates whether dental hygienists in North Carolina are confident to counsel patients who are at-risk for obesity.


A questionnaire was used to survey 246 dental hygienists attending a continuing education (CE) course. It investigated self-reported confidence in providing obesity counseling, educational preparation, outcome expectations and self-efficacy. The primary outcome was confidence in providing weight loss counseling. Mantel Haenszel statistics were used to compare group of interest.


Of the dental hygienists surveyed, 43% perceived an increase of overweight patients in their practices. Nearly all (95%) felt that dental hygienists have a role in helping patients improve nutrition. Over half (65%) expressed confidence in discussing obesity-related health risks. On average, the confidence in getting patients to follow weight loss advice was significantly different (p=0.02) for those with a 2 year degree and those with a 4 year degree.


The findings indicate that many North Carolina dental hygienists are willing to discuss obesity with patients.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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