Document Type

Article

Publication Date

1-2006

MeSH Terms

Dental Care--ethics, Ethics, Professional--education

Subject: LCSH

Ethics--Study and teaching, Dental health education

Disciplines

Dentistry

Abstract

Purpose. Dental hygiene ethics is an essential component of the dental hygiene curriculum. The accreditation standards for dental hygiene education state that graduates must be competent in applying ethical concepts to the provision and/or support of oral health care services.1 Although the standards for entry into the profession of dental hygiene emphasize the importance of ethical reasoning, there is little published research specific to ethics instruction in dental hygiene programs. The purpose of this study was to assess how ethics is taught in the dental hygiene curriculum. Methods. A 17-item survey was designed and distributed to 261 accredited dental hygiene programs in the United States for a response rate of 56% (N=147). The survey requested that participants provide information on teaching and evaluation methodologies, didactic and clinical hours of instruction, individuals responsible for providing instruction, and the degree of emphasis placed on ethics and integration of ethical reasoning within the dental hygiene curriculum. Results. Results of the survey reflect that dental hygiene programs devote a mean of 20.2 hours to teaching dental hygiene ethics in the didactic component of the curriculum. With regard to the clinical component of the curriculum, 63% of respondents indicated that 10 or less hours are devoted to ethics instruction. These results show an increase in didactic hours of instruction from previous studies where the mean hours of instruction ranged from 7 to 11.7 hours.2 Results showed 64% of respondents offered a separate course in ethics; however, 82% of programs surveyed indicated that ethics was incorporated into one or more dental hygiene courses with 98% utilizing dental hygiene faculty to provide instruction. Most programs utilized a variety of instructional methods to teach ethics with the majority employing class discussion and lecture (99% and 97% respectively). The type of institution-technical college, community college, four-year university with a dental school, and four-year university without a dental school-had little influence on the degree of emphasis placed on teaching ethics. Although the number of hours devoted to ethics instruction has increased, 43% of respondents indicated that they would like to see more emphasis placed on ethics in the program with which they are affiliated. Conclusion. This study reveals that programs have taken measures to employ a variety of teaching strategies to ensure that students are competent in applying ethical concepts in the provision of oral health care. However, programs continue to rely primarily on traditional methods of instruction and evaluation such as lecture, discussion, quizzes, and written assignments. Inferential analysis focusing on the influence of the type of institution, showed that in general, the type of institution has little influence on the level of emphasis placed on teaching ethics in dental hygiene curricula. It is recommended that dental hygiene programs continue to implement and evaluate instructional methods that simulate real life experiences and emphasize ethical concepts that promote comprehensive oral health care. Future studies should investigate the effectiveness of ethics instruction within dental hygiene curricula.

Comments

This article was originally published in Journal of Dental Hygiene and is reposted here with permission. The original posting may be found at http://jdh.adha.org.unh-proxy01.newhaven.edu:2048/content/80/1/9.abstract

Publisher Citation

Kacerik, Mark G., Renee G. Prajer, and Cynthia Conrad. "Ethics instruction in the dental hygiene curriculum." J Dent Hyg Winter 2006 80.1 (2006): 9-9.

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Dentistry Commons

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