240679 Are dental hygienists ready for patients with disabilities? Findings from a statewide survey on their training and comfort level in treating patients with disabilities

Wednesday, November 2, 2011: 10:48 AM

Kiyoshi Yamaki, PhD , Department of Disability and Human Development, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL
Julie Ann Janssen, RDH, MA, CDHC , Illinois Department of Public Health, Division of Oral Health, Springfield, IL
Sangeeta Wadhawan, BDS, MPH , Division of Oral Health, Illinois Department of Public Health, Springfield, IL
Stacey Ballweg , Division of Oral Health, Illinois Department of Public Health, Springfield, IL
Carla Cox, MPH, CHES , Office of Health Promotion, Illinois Department of Public Health, Springfield, IL
Background: A dental hygienist (DH) has an important role in improving patients' oral health through a) assessment, b) screening, c) education, and d) teeth cleaning. In performing these roles effectively with patients with disability who have a wide range of physical, cognitive and sensory limitations, a DH is anticipated to have some skills in accommodating their needs. Yet, there is little information available about the degree of their training and levels of their comfort in treating persons with disabilities. Method: A statewide survey of registered dental hygienists (n=3955) was conducted in 2010. For each of the following three groups of patients (those with physical, cognitive, and sensory limitation), respondents were asked 1) if they have ever received training on treating them and 2) where they received the training, and 3) how well-prepared they felt to treat them. Results: The majority of the DHs indicated that they had some training in treating each of the three patients groups mostly from their hygienist school. Across the three patient groups, the proportion of DHs who receivedno training” to treat them differed significantly from 8.1% for physical limitation, 15.5% for cognitive limitation, and 23.2% for sensory limitation (p < .000). Similarly, the proportion of DHs who consider themselves “well-prepared” was highest in treating patients with physical limitation (95.5%), followed by those with cognitive limitation (88.3%), then patients with sensory limitation (85.5%) (p < .000). Conclusion: DHs were least trained and felt least prepared in treating patients with sensory limitation.

Learning Areas:
Administer health education strategies, interventions and programs
Advocacy for health and health education
Provision of health care to the public
Public health or related education

Learning Objectives:
1. Identify the role of dental hygienists in maintaining oral health of persons with disability. 2. Identify training experiences dental hygienists have in treating the following three subgroups of patients with disability: physical, cognitive, and sensory limitation. 3. Identify dental hygienist’s self-rated preparedness in treating each of the three groups.

Keywords: Access and Services, Disability

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I developed the questions addressing dental hygienist's degree of training and level of comfort in treating patients with disabilities. These questions were included as part of state-level dental workforce survey. I also analyzed responses collected from the hygienists.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.