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Keywords:

  • Special Care Dentistry;
  • dental education;
  • disability;
  • attitude;
  • dental student;
  • curriculum

Abstract

Introduction

Undergraduate dental curricula increasingly aim to address student attitudes towards people with disabilities. This study reports the effectiveness of a comprehensive, blended learning Special Care Dentistry undergraduate programme to change attitudes towards people with disabilities.

Methods

A validated psychometric instrument (ATDP-Form 0) was given as a course evaluation to third-year dental students in the Dublin Dental University Hospital over 3 years from 2010 to 2013, immediately before and after the delivery of a brief comprehensive curriculum in Special Care Dentistry.

Results

From a population of 109 students, 100 (91.7%) pre-test and 83 (76.1%) retest responses were analysed. Mean score before the course, for all years, was 74.8 (SD = 14.7), compared with 76.8 (SD = 14.0) for all years after the course.

Conclusions

Dental students in our study had neither particularly positive, or negative attitudes towards people with disabilities. There was no statistically significant difference in student attitudes before and after the educational intervention. This study, therefore, shows that a comprehensive undergraduate blended learning module, which aimed to improve attitudes towards people with disabilities, did not do so, using the described measures within the selected timeframe.