Aim: To examine how much final-year undergraduate dental students know about postural dental ergonomic requirements, and how well they apply these requirements clinically.
Background: Dentists are vulnerable to diverse mechanical (e.g. postural) and non-mechanical occupational risks.
Materials and methods: Eight postural requirements found in normalising documents were identified, reproduced, photographed, and analysed to develop a test of visual perception (TVP). Photographs of the 69 participating students were taken during their clinical care to ascertain ergonomics compliance, after which the students were administered the TVP. Pearson's test was used to correlate the level of knowledge (TVP) and its clinical application (photographic analysis) among the 552 observations made for each test (total of 1104 observations).
Results: 65.7% of the TVP questions were answered correctly and 35% of the photographic cases were in compliance with ergonomic requirements (+ 0.67, P < 0.0001).
Conclusion: The knowledge of ergonomics postural requirements and their clinical application among the dental students surveyed were not satisfactory. The reasons for the learning difficulties encountered by the students should be identified to improve the learning process. The didactic use of digital images in this study may help in this endeavour.
© 2011 John Wiley & Sons A/S.