Self-perceptions of cultural competence among dental students and recent graduates

Jolanta Aleksejuniene, Chris Zed, Rodrigo Marino
Journal of Dental Education 2014, 78 (3): 389-400
This study assessed self-perceptions of cultural competence in dental students and recent graduates of the University of British Columbia. The sample consisted of 106 predoctoral students (response rate 98 percent) and thirty-three recent graduates (response rate 43 percent). The two cohorts completed similar questionnaires. Over 80 percent of responding predoctoral students reported encountering patients from culturally different groups, 50 percent of them admitted that their communication is not effective, two-thirds were not confident in caring for patients from diverse cultural groups, and over 60 percent perceived that sociocultural differences affect the provision of care. Some significant differences between the genders and study years were observed. Exploratory Factor Analyses validated multiple indicators in five domains: 1) encountering culturally diverse patients, 2) communication challenges in sociocultural situations, 3) cultural competence-related skills, 4) cultural competence related to diagnosis and patient treatment, and 5) training in cultural competence. Through qualitative assessments, important culturally relevant topics and interactive training methods preferred by students for developing cultural competence were identified. This study concluded that cultural competence was perceived as important by both dental students and recent graduates but also as partly deficient, particularly by predoctoral students. For teaching cultural competence, participants recommended various topics and interactive teaching modalities.

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