Objective: A pilot study to measure the validity of using a hygienist to carry out school screening.
Design: Following a standard training programme a dental hygienist (DH), recruited from general practice, a newly appointed dental officer (DO) and an epidemiologist (SDO), who acted as the standard, all screened the same group of school children on two occasions.
Setting: An inner city school with known high levels of disease.
Participants: Ninety-eight 7- and 8-year-old children attending school.
Main outcome measures: For each clinician the levels of referral, the reasons for referral and the repeatability were measured.
Results: The hygienist referred 26 children (27%) for further examination while the DO and the SDO both referred 61 (62%). The DO achieved the required standards of sensitivity and specificity when results were compared with the SDO but the hygienist did not. Intra-examiner reliability in all three clinicians was good.
Conclusions: The standard training programme used to prepare dental officers to carry out school screening to an agreed standard was insufficient for this hygienist's needs.