JOURNAL ARTICLE

Providing care for underserved patients: endodontic residents', faculty members', and endodontists' educational experiences and professional attitudes and behavior

Marita R Inglehart, Brady K Schneider, Patricia A Bauer, Maneet M Dharia, Neville J McDonald
Journal of Dental Education 2014, 78 (5): 735-44
24789833

UNLABELLED: In the United States, access to dental care is often challenging for patients from socioeconomically disadvantaged and/or minority populations and for patients with special health care needs (SHCN). The objectives of this study were to a) explore endodontic residents', endodontic faculty members', and private practice endodontists' perceptions of their education about treating underserved patients, along with their related attitudes and behavior, and b) to determine how their educational experiences were related to their attitudes and behavior concerning these patients. It was hypothesized that the quality of educational experiences related to these issues would correlate with the providers' professional attitudes and behavior.

METHODS: Survey data were collected from seventy-eight endodontic residents, forty-eight endodontic faculty members, and seventy-five endodontists in private practice.

RESULTS: The residents reported themselves being better prepared to treat these patients than did the endodontists in private practice. The residents and faculty members had more positive attitudes towards patients with SHCN, developmental disabilities, and pro bono cases and were more confident when treating patients with developmental disabilities than private practitioners. However, the three groups did not differ in educational experiences and attitudes concerning patients from different ethnic/racial groups. The better the respondents' graduate education about certain patient groups had been, the more positive were their attitudes and behavior.

CONCLUSIONS: Improving endodontic residents' education about treating underserved patients is likely to improve their attitudes and behavior related to providing much-needed care for these patients. These findings are a call-to-action for dental educators to ensure quality education is being provided about these issues in order to decrease access to care problems for underserved patients.

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