Purpose: This study sought to determine the type and amount of instruction on behavioral management of anxious clients in dental hygiene curricula, the instructional differences between associate and baccalaureate programs, and the opinions of educators regarding behavioral management.
Methods: A 19-item questionnaire was mailed to the directors of 210 dental hygiene programs who were asked to furnish information pertaining to behavioral instruction in their curricula and to express their opinions by use of a Likert scale. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics and the chi-square and Z hypothesis tests.
Results: Two mailings resulted in an overall response rate of 81%, with 170 questionnaires returned. Results revealed that 86% of programs surveyed taught behavioral management of anxious clients to their students. Types of strategies taught and percentage of programs teaching them were: information provision (96%), distraction (51%), modeling (51%), relaxation (62%), and hypnosis (7%). No significant relationships were found between associate and baccalaureate degree programs relating to the type of behavioral instruction; however, baccalaureate degree programs devoted significantly more curricular hours to this instruction. In general, the sample of dental hygiene educators held positive opinions regarding the use of behavioral management, with only 28% having had formal education in this area.
Conclusion: Results suggest that comprehensive instruction on behavioral management of client anxiety is not provided to students in all dental hygiene programs, even though dental hygiene educators consider this modality effective during oral health care.