Dental School Faculty Attitudes Toward Dental Therapy: A Four-Year Follow-Up.

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Journal of dental education, ISSN: 1930-7837, Vol: 81, Issue: 5, Page: 517-525

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Self, Karl D; Lopez, Naty; Blue, Christine M
American Dental Education Association
Social Sciences; Dentistry
article description
This study is a follow-up to a 2010 study at one U.S. dental school that found faculty attitudes toward the dental therapy model were mixed and there was a clear divide in attitudes between faculty members who were full-time educators and part-timers who also practiced outside the educational institution. The aim of this study was to determine faculty attitudes toward and perceptions of the dental therapy model at the same school four years after implementation of the dental therapy program. The identical questionnaire used in 2010 was used in this survey conducted from November 2013 to January 2014. All 254 full-time and part-time faculty members were invited to participate; responses were received from 75 faculty members, for a 30% response rate. Four years after the initial survey, the respondents showed greater acceptance of dental therapists and of dental therapy as a mechanism for addressing access to care problems. A majority of the respondents reported feeling a personal responsibility to ensuring the dental therapy model succeeded (52%); indicated being comfortable having a dental therapist provide care for their patients (60%); and agreed that the ability to delegate work to a dental therapist would make a dentist's job more satisfying (54%). Faculty members who also worked in a private practice viewed the role of dental therapists in private practice more favorably in 2014 than in 2010. This study provides insight into how attitudes of educators toward a new profession evolve over time. The faculty appeared to be undergoing a reorientation on the topic of dental therapy. This transition in point of view may have been facilitated by factors such as continued exposure to the new professionals, information sharing, and time.