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JOURNAL ARTICLE

Attitudes of incoming dental students toward tobacco cessation promotion in the dental setting

Kristin Zakariasen Victoroff, Tatyana Dankulich-Huryn, Shaziya Haque
Journal of Dental Education 2004, 68 (5): 563-8
15186073
Dentists can play an important role in helping patients quit using tobacco. The aim of this study was to investigate incoming dental students' attitudes toward tobacco cessation promotion in the dental setting. Such attitudes can impact students' receptivity to training and subsequent involvement in tobacco cessation promotion. A twenty-six-item written survey was administered to freshman students at a midwestern dental school during orientation weeks 2002 and 2003. Questions focused on students' attitudes toward the dental professional's responsibilities and scope of practice in promotion of tobacco cessation. Response rate was 99 percent (139/140). Respondents were 75 percent male, 25 percent female. Mean age was 24.8 +/- 3.0 years. Ninety-nine percent agreed that it is the dental professional's responsibility to educate patients about the oral health risks of tobacco use. Eighty-five percent agreed that it is within the scope of dental practice to advise patients to quit using tobacco, but fewer agreed that it is within the scope of practice to discuss specific strategies for stopping (70 percent) or to prescribe nicotine gum (45 percent). Sixty-nine percent agreed that tobacco cessation counseling in the dental office could impact patients' quitting. Seventy-one percent anticipated that patient resistance could be a barrier to tobacco cessation promotion. Nearly one quarter (23 percent) were only slightly or not interested in receiving tobacco cessation training. Attitudes of incoming dental students appear to be positive regarding the dental professional's responsibility to educate patients about the risks of tobacco use. However, some students may have reservations about the extent to which tobacco cessation services fit within the scope of dental practice, the efficacy of such services, and patient receptiveness. These reservations should be addressed if dental school curricula in tobacco cessation are to be effective.

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