Dental hygiene students' attitudes toward treating individuals with disabilities. Academic Article uri icon


  • In the past, studies have been conducted to determine dental and dental hygiene students' attitudes toward the disabled following their clinical experience. The purpose of this study was to identify how dental hygiene students' attitudes toward treating clients with disabilities changed between the start and the end of their didactic and clinical rotation. Earlier research had examined dental hygiene students' attitudes toward individuals with disabilities following either a limited didactic and clinical course addressing disabilities or at the completion of their dental hygiene education. Few investigations had examined students' attitudes prior to and at the completion of a long-term course on clients with disabilities. The aim of this investigation was to determine if a one-year clinical and didactic course addressing various disabilities would result in a significant change in the students' attitudes and comfort level when treating clients with disabilities. The survey researched the attitudes of 18 senior dental hygiene students in the special care clinic at Baylor College of Dentistry, Texas. The students received a pre- and post-modified survey of the "Dental Students' Attitudes Toward the Handicapped Scale" and were asked to rank their responses from strongly agree (5) to strongly disagree (1). The following areas were assessed: Group 1 (Positive Perceptions of Educational Training); Group 2 (Negative Attitude Toward Treating Persons with Disabilities); Group 3 (Providing Dental Services); Group 4 (Negative Perceptions of Educational Training); and Group 5 (Comfort Level when Treating Persons with Disabilities). There was a significant improvement in the students' attitudes in Groups 1, 2 and 4 with p-values for the questions in these groups ranging between p < 0.001 to p < 0.05. In Group 3, only two out of the five questions yielded a significant change in attitude, p < 0.001 to p < 0.01. Following the rotation, when asked about their comfort level in treating clients with disabilities (Group 5), the students reported being comfortable treating persons with autism p < 0.01, cerebral palsy p < 0.05, quadriplegia and paraplegia p < 0.05.

published proceedings

  • Probe

author list (cited authors)

  • Loiacono, C., Muzzin, K. B., & Guo, I. Y.

citation count

  • 7

complete list of authors

  • Loiacono, C||Muzzin, KB||Guo, IY

publication date

  • January 1996