Education about treating patients with HIV infections/AIDS: the student perspective

J Dent Educ. 2003 Jun;67(6):630-40.


This study investigated dental and dental hygiene students' a) perceptions of their education about treating patients with HIV infections/AIDS, b) knowledge of universal precautions, c) attitudes towards treating these patients and patients perceived to be at risk for HIV infections, and d) evaluations of potential curricular activities such as discussion groups with HIV-infected patients. Data were collected with self-administered questionnaires from 315 dental and 89 dental hygiene students. On average, dental students reported having learned about this topic in fever courses than dental hygiene students. However, dental students answered significantly more knowledge questions about universal precautions correctly than did dental hygiene students. This knowledge increased over the program course. Male students had significantly stronger negative attitudes towards patients at risk for or with HIV infections/AIDS than female students. Overall, dental and dental hygiene students responded positively to the suggested methods for including more material about patients with HIV infections/AIDS such as case studies, discussion groups, and closely supervised clinical experiences. This study shows that dental and dental hygiene students are interested in learning more about treating patients with HIV infections/AIDS. It also adds information to previous research on factors involved in the dental healthcare providers' decisions to treat patients at risk for or with HIV infections/AIDS. The implications of these findings for curriculum development efforts are discussed.

MeSH terms

  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome*
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Attitude to Health
  • Curriculum
  • Dental Care for Chronically Ill*
  • Dental Hygienists / education*
  • Dentist-Patient Relations
  • Education, Dental*
  • Female
  • HIV Infections*
  • Humans
  • Learning
  • Male
  • Professional-Patient Relations
  • Program Development
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • Students, Dental*
  • Teaching / methods
  • Universal Precautions