Aims: Aims of this study were to assess undergraduates’ and graduates’ perceptions of their education by documenting their attitudes and investigating acquired competencies in temporomandibular disorders (TMD) and orofacial pain (OP).
Methods: In 2006, 141 undergraduates (in semesters 1, 6, and 10 of a 5-year dental programme) and 60 graduates of 2000 and 2001 were invited to fill in questionnaires designed for their levels. The four questionnaires contained open-ended questions, closed-ended questions, and questions requiring a scaled response on an 11-point numerical rating scale (NRS). Questions covered personal experience of pain, attitudes toward TMD/OP, clinical competencies, and satisfaction with their education. Participants rated importance of and satisfaction with clinical competencies on a 5-point scale.
Results: The importance of understanding TMD/OP patients was rated high (NRS 9—10) and attitudes to given statements about TMD/OP patients were positive. In general, perception of clinical competencies increased with level of education. Mean scores for importance of and satisfaction with clinical competencies of 10th semester undergraduates and graduates were above 4.0. Median graduate satisfaction with undergraduate education in TMD/OP patient management was high (NRS 9). All but one graduate had treated patients with TMD/OP. One-third of the responding graduates expressed a wish for additional training, such as in pharmacological treatment and evaluation of treatment outcome.
Conclusion: In general, the perception of acquired clinical competencies in TMD and OP increased with level of education, and the importance of, and satisfaction with, training was highly rated. Positive attitudes toward these kinds of patients were expressed at all levels.