Attitudes of South African oral hygienists towards compulsory community service

Int J Dent Hyg. 2008 Feb;6(1):8-12. doi: 10.1111/j.1601-5037.2007.00282.x.


Compulsory Community Service (CCS) was introduced into the health service by the government to address the shortage and maldistribution of health professionals within the public sector. The aim of this study was to assess the perceptions of oral hygiene (OH) students, registered in 2004 at the five dental universities regarding the introduction of a 1-year-long CCS.

Objectives: To determine: (a) the students' socio-demographic profile and (b) their attitudes towards CCS.

Methods: A self-administered questionnaire was hand delivered to all OH students who were registered during 2004 at the respective dental universities.

Results: The study yielded a response rate of 70% (109) with the average age of participants being 21.4 years. Most students were female (94%) and more than half were White (52%). More than half (53%) did not want to perform CCS even though 75% acknowledged its' importance. The most common concern for not supporting CCS was security (89%). Ninety per cent (90%) indicated that their preferred tasks would be to engage in clinical work and oral health promotion.

Conclusion: Although the majority of participants supported the principles of CCS, a significant number were against the introduction citing security as their main concern. Most of the students preferred to perform clinical work and preventive programmes during their CCS.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Community Dentistry*
  • Dental Hygienists / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mandatory Programs
  • Residence Characteristics
  • South Africa
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • White People
  • Workforce