North Carolina dental hygiene students' opinions about tobacco cessation education and practices in their programs

Joanna L Harris, Lauren L Patton, Rebecca S Wilder, Charlotte A Peterson, Alice E Curran
Journal of Dental Education 2009, 73 (5): 539-49
Inadequate training in tobacco cessation counseling (TCC) is a recognized, but mutable, barrier to implementation of tobacco cessation education (TCE) and intervention strategies in dental practice. The objective of this study was to identify the opinions and practices of senior dental hygiene (DH) students in North Carolina regarding their didactic training in TCE and integration of TCE into their clinical curricula. A pilot-tested questionnaire designed by the authors was administered to a cross-sectional, non-random convenience sample of 241 graduating senior DH students enrolled in all twelve North Carolina DH educational programs. Response rate was 65 percent (n=156). Of the respondents, 99 percent agreed that hygienists should be trained to provide TCE. Nearly all respondents (99 percent) had one or more patients who smoked, and 81 percent had one or more patients who used spit tobacco. Eighty-nine percent had one or more patients who had expressed a desire to quit. Most students were comfortable providing TCC to both smokers (92 percent) and spit tobacco users (93 percent); however, 26 percent reported that they were not comfortable providing quit messages to patients unwilling to quit. Enhancements to TCE in DH curricula may increase hygienists' incorporation of TCE into their future practice.

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