Reed, Kayla Michelle (2019-05). Registered Dental Hygienists' Perceived Preparedness on Treating the Special Needs Patient. Master's Thesis.
The purpose of this study was to examine dental hygienists' perceived preparedness when treating special needs patients and how it relates to their dental hygiene education. Paper surveys were mailed out to 1036 registered dental hygienists in Alabama, Florida, Tennessee and Texas with a return rate of 17.5% (n=181). Results of the survey show approximately 69% of respondents indicated that they felt their education somewhat prepared them or did not prepare them to treat patients with special needs. Furthermore, respondents indicated that their clinical training on patients with special needs was more beneficial than their didactic in improving their confidence and comfort when working with this population. Results of this study also show that there was a significant relationship (p=0.003) between the time spent on the subject of special needs patients during the dental hygienists' education and their perception of how well their dental hygiene education prepared them to treat patients with special needs. Additionally, this study as well as previous studies suggest that many dental professionals agree there should be more education on the special needs patient. The inclusion of such a course may increase the dental professionals comfort level and in turn, increase the willingness of practioners to treat special needs patients in their dental practice.