Reducing oral health disparities and increasing access to dental care for all individuals with special needs is the end goal for many studies. One avenue to reduce this disparity is to increased number of dental professionals who were willing to serve this population. By evaluating curriculum concerning patients with special needs with an emphasis on children with special needs, future changes in dental education in this area can be more directed and more efficient at changing graduates perceptions and behaviors. In the long run, more prepared providers will be more willing to treat patients and children with special needs.
The goal of this study is to reinforce previous data that the more dental education regarding special needs patients a student receives, the better prepared they feel to treat special needs patients when they graduate. It is also expected that the better prepared dentists feel regarding their abilities to treat special needs patients as well as children with special needs, the more patients with special needs they will treat. However, this pilot program also hopes to see a relationship between the type of education dental students receive and their post graduation attitudes and behavior. Schools selected for the pilot program have a mix of educational programs including didactic only versus both clinic and didactic instruction. It is expected that the type of education will have some effect on attitudes and behaviors. Based on the results from the pilot program and a fully intensive follow-up, recommendations will be made to dental schools and curriculum stakeholders across the nation. Identifying what is the more effective instruction type can reduce the hours of less effective education, thereby reducing curriculum overload at dental schools while simultaneously targeting a health care disparity.
APPENDIX A: CURRICULUM FOR GERIATRIC/SPECIAL NEEDS PATIENTS IN US DENTAL SCHOOLS – IDENTIFYING PILOT PROGRAM SCHOOLS
appendix b: Dental School Special Needs Curriculum Survey
Dean of Curriculum,
Patients with special needs continue to experience difficulties in finding dentists who are willing to treat them. Access to care in this population is related to many factors, including education during dental school. Previous studies have found that the more hours of education regarding special needs students receive, the more likely these students are to treat special needs patients in private practice after dental school. In order to better examine the relationship between the amount and type of education students receive regarding patients with special needs affects practices and attitudes of the graduates, specific educational data is necessary.
Your dental school has been chosen to participate in a study along with the University of Pittsburgh based on past data about curriculum regarding patients with special needs. The research team expects to collect information about the curriculum involving patients with special needs for the dental classes of 2014 and 2015. It is also necessary to explore whether these students believe that they received adequate training in this important topic and if the training has affected the recent graduates’ attitudes and behaviors after dental school. To assess these questions, please fill out the following survey and return it in the pre-stamped, pre-addressed envelope provided. Please also identify the person to collaborate with to supply surveys to these recent graduates, perhaps as a bulk, alumni mailing. This data will help the research team in providing answers to what type of education is best, how many hours are necessary, and other questions regarding behaviors after dental school.
Thank you for your participation.
Instructions: Please fill out the following survey considering the dental classes of 2014 and 2015.