Opinions of South Carolina dental students toward tobacco use interventions

Gabrielle F Cannick, Alice M Horowitz, Susan G Reed, Thomas F Drury, Terry A Day
Journal of Public Health Dentistry 2006, 66 (1): 44-8

OBJECTIVES: Tobacco use accounts for 75 percent of oral cancer deaths in the United States. One objective of Healthy People 2010 is to increase the percentage of dentists who provide smoking cessation counseling. However, studies of dentists have shown that the majority feel inadequately prepared to do so. The objective of this study was to determine the opinions of dental students at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) regarding the provision of tobacco use interventions for patients.

METHODS: In 2002, 163 students were administered a written questionnaire which included questions about tobacco use interventions (response rate=80 percent). Opinion items were analyzed using factor analysis, Fisher's Exact Test, and ANOVA (a < or = 0.025).

RESULTS: While 89 percent of students agreed that dentists should be trained to provide tobacco cessation education, only 39 percent thought that they themselves were adequately trained. Students' opinions toward the role and training of dentists in providing tobacco use interventions differed by academic year. Only 14.1 percent of dental students were quite or very confident in their ability to help patients to stop smoking.

CONCLUSIONS: This study indicates that although MUSC dental students support tobacco cessation training for dentists, the majority responded that they are not adequately trained and are not comfortable providing tobacco cessation education to patients. A comprehensive tobacco prevention and cessation program is indicated for the objective of Healthy People 2010 to be met.


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