Dental hygiene students' perceptions of a cultural competence component in a tobacco dependence education curriculum: a pilot study

Heather J Doucette, Peggy J Maillet, Martha G Brillant, Cara L Tax
Journal of Dental Education 2015, 79 (6): 680-5
First Nations and Inuit peoples have tobacco use rates three times that of the Canadian national average. Providing tobacco dependence education (TDE) requires an understanding of the factors surrounding tobacco use that are culturally specific to this population. The aim of this pilot study was to evaluate the effectiveness of a new cultural competence component for Canadian First Nations and Inuit peoples in a TDE curriculum at Dalhousie University School of Dental Hygiene, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. In 2011, the TDE curriculum was revised to include a First Nations and Inuit people's cultural component. A 32-question survey was developed for the study, with questions divided into four subscales regarding students' perceived knowledge, skills, comfort level, and attitudes about working with this population. Responses from students in two succeeding years were compared: the first cohort had not participated in the revised curriculum (56% response rate), and the second cohort had (63% response rate). The results showed an overall improvement in the subscales evaluated and a significant (p=0.002) improvement in the knowledge subscale of the students who received the new TDE curriculum, specifically regarding knowledge about sociocultural characteristics, health risks, and cultural healing traditions of First Nations and Inuit people. Although the results indicated an increase in the knowledge of the culture of First Nations and Inuit peoples, it is unclear whether the students felt better prepared to provide TDE to this population. For future research, the investigators would examine what learning experiences and further changes to the curriculum could be provided to facilitate the level of preparedness to successfully deliver TDE.

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