Information and communication technology among undergraduate dental students in Finland

Eur J Dent Educ. 2002 Nov;6(4):147-52. doi: 10.1034/j.1600-0579.2002.00251.x.


Use of information and communication technology (ICT) is rapidly increasing in medical and dental education. The aim of the present study was to determine the knowledge, skills and opinions of dental undergraduate students regarding ICT and to analyze possible shifts in the acquisition of these resources. For these purposes a survey of all undergraduate dental students at the University of Oulu, Finland, was conducted during the spring term 2000. All the students in the 5 years of study (n = 140) were asked to answer a questionnaire presented during a lecture or demonstration. An overall response rate of 95% was achieved. The frequencies and percentage distributions of the items were analyzed separately for each year (1-5). All the students in the faculty are provided with personal e-mail addresses at the beginning of their studies and special emphasis has been laid on the utilization of their ICT knowledge and skills. An overwhelming majority of the students, more than 95%, judged themselves to have good or satisfactory skills in word processing, but only a slight majority considered that they could manage some advanced operating system functions. Use of ICT services was high, as about 60% of the students used e-mail and one-third WWW services daily. Literature retrieval was widely employed, so that almost 80% of the students had used literature databases (including Ovid Medline and collections of electronic full-text articles), which were introduced and provided by the Medical Library when the students were in their second year. More than 50% had received educational material in electronic form often or sometimes, and almost 80% had communicated by e-mail with a faculty teacher. A clear trend (P < 0.05) was found for the younger students to use ICT services in general and for educational purposes more often than the older ones. In conclusion, e-mail and WWW have been widely adopted for both private and educational purposes by dental students in Finland and are employed together with WWW-based medical and dental publication databases. The younger students have more interest in ICT and better skills, which presents a challenge for dental education in the future.

MeSH terms

  • Computer Literacy*
  • Computer User Training
  • Curriculum
  • Education, Dental*
  • Electronic Mail / statistics & numerical data
  • Finland
  • Humans
  • Information Systems / statistics & numerical data*
  • Internet / statistics & numerical data
  • Medical Informatics / education*
  • Students, Dental / statistics & numerical data*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Word Processing / statistics & numerical data