A study of the dietary counseling practices among Oregon dental hygienists

J Dent Hyg. 1993 Feb;67(2):93-100.


Purpose: The purpose of the study was to identify the dietary counseling practices of Oregon dental hygienists. Factors which affect the extent of dietary counseling were examined, including the dental hygienists' attitude, confidence, personal dietary practices, and perception of practice constraints.

Methods: A 25-item survey was mailed in summer 1989 to a random sample of 300 Oregon licensed dental hygienists. Likert-scaled statements were used to measure the extent of dietary counseling activities and the factors which affect their extent. Multiple-choice questions measured nutrition knowledge and quality of dietary counseling. Descriptive statistics were computed for each variable. Data were analyzed at the p<.05 significance level. Hypotheses testing included Pearson product-moment correlation, one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA), and chi-square.

Results: Of the 212 respondents (72% adjusted response rate), 52% reported providing dietary counseling. Ninety-six percent reported that they did not obtain dietary intake records and 82% did not evaluate their patients' diets for nutritional adequacy. A significant positive relationship (r=.19) was found between the hygienists' nutrition knowledge and quality of dietary counseling. Extent of counseling and the dental hygienist's confidence in nutrition knowledge and dietary counseling skills were found to be significantly related (r=-.31). A significant negative relationship (r= -.29) was found between extent of counseling and the dental hygienist's perception of practice constraints, most notably lack of time and cost-effectiveness.

Conclusions: Dietary counseling is provided to a limited extent by dental hygienists in Oregon oral healthcare practices. Dental hygienists should provide this service based on patients' needs and, when necessary, refer patients to nutrition professionals. Further study could assess the nutrition and dietary counseling content and application in dental hygiene curricula.

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Clinical Competence
  • Counseling*
  • Dental Hygienists* / education
  • Feeding Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Nutritional Sciences / education
  • Oregon
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Professional-Patient Relations
  • Self Concept