JOURNAL ARTICLE

Effect of school environment on dental students' perceptions of cultural competency curricula and preparedness to care for diverse populations

Edmond R Hewlett, Pamela L Davidson, Terry T Nakazono, Sebastian E Baumeister, Daisy C Carreon, James R Freed
Journal of Dental Education 2007, 71 (6): 810-8
17554098
Reports of oral health disparities among racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic sectors of the U.S. population have hastened development of strategies to address this issue. Among these strategies is revising dental school curricula in order to develop more culturally competent graduates. The present study uses data from the 2003 American Dental Education Association (ADEA) survey of dental school seniors to assess students' perceptions of the adequacy of their cultural competency training. We hypothesize that these perceptions are influenced by multiple student characteristics and contextual factors, including a school's status with respect to the Pipeline, Professions, and Practice initiative of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and The California Endowment. Response data from ADEA survey items reflecting student perceptions of adequacy of curriculum time devoted to cultural competency and their preparedness to treat an ethnically and culturally diverse population were analyzed to assess the influence of selected student and contextual factors. Student gender, marital status, and level of educational debt were found to influence the curriculum time variable, and students at California schools reported higher perceived preparedness levels than students at dental schools nationwide. Dental school environments promoting acceptance and respect of diverse ethnicities/cultures and student race/ethnicity were significantly associated with students' perception of the adequacy of curriculum time for cultural competency and students' perception of their preparedness to provide oral health care for racially and culturally diverse groups. The findings provide insight for development of cultural competency curricula and direction for future study in this area.

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