Purpose: The purpose of this descriptive study was to determine the curricular utilization of Evidence-Based (EB) philosophies in dental hygiene education in both baccalaureate and nonbaccalaureate U.S. dental hygiene programs.
Methods: Data were gathered via a 1999 survey of all 235 U.S. dental hygiene program directors. The 21-question survey included one open-ended and 20 closed-ended items. Initially, the survey was pilot tested using a convenience sample of seven U.S. dental hygiene program directors. A final, revised survey was mailed to the cohort population. A response rate of 71% (N = 167) was achieved after two mailings.
Results: The demographic results of this study revealed the majority of respondents (77%) were from nonbaccalaureate dental hygiene programs, while the remainder (23%) were from baccalaureate degree programs. Respondents were asked if and to what degree the fundamentals of research were taught in their curriculum. Baccalaureate programs' responses indicated a much greater degree of utilization. Sixty-two percent of baccalaureate respondents provide a separate course on research, and 32% teach research as a portion of another dental hygiene course. However, 3% of the responding baccalaureate programs reported that no research was included in the curriculum. These results demonstrate an overall high utilization of research by baccalaureate curricula. In comparison, nonbaccalaureate programs' responses show a lesser degree of research utilization when compared with the baccalaureate programs. Only 8% of nonbaccalaureate programs had a separate research course. The majority, 80%, of nonbaccalaureate respondents reported that they teach research as a portion of another dental hygiene course. Finally, 10% of the nonbaccalaureate degree respondents reported teaching no research. Overwhelmingly, both baccalaureate and nonbaccalaureate students received formal orientation in the use of library--100% and 84%, respectively. Ninety-seven percent of baccalaureate and 82% of nonbaccalaureate programs provided students with formal instruction in using both literature indices and databases. To a lesser extent, both baccalaureate and nonbaccalaureate programs introduced students to the Internet and encouraged them to use it for conducting literature searches--83% and 78%, respectively. In fact, seventy-four percent of baccalaureate programs and 68% of nonbaccalaureate programs reported formally teaching the evaluation of information retrieved from the Internet. Both baccalaureate and nonbaccalaureate programs similarly indicated teaching the evaluation of research findings for validity, reliability, and clinical importance. To a lesser extent, 86% of baccalaureate and 61% of nonbaccalaureate programs reported that they encourage students to make EB recommendations to patients and teach students how to apply EB findings to clinical situations.
Conclusion: The findings of this descriptive study indicate both baccalaureate and nonbaccalaureate degree programs incorporate some aspects of an EB philosophy into the curriculum. Survey results reveal baccalaureate degree programs incorporated research and taught the use of library facilities, journal indices, and electronic databases. In addition, baccalaureate degree programs also emphasized and encouraged the application of critically appraised evidence into practice. The nonbaccalaureate respondents utilized the library facilities, journal indices, and electronic databases to a slightly lesser extent than their baccalaureate counterparts. The nonbaccalaureate respondents also demonstrated less application of EB findings to clinical situations, including actual patient treatment.