Purpose: At the beginning of the 20th century, people 65 and older comprised 4.1% of the population. By the year 2030, it is estimated that people 65 and older, the 'Baby Boomer' generation, will comprise more than 20% of the population. This will have a profound effect on the practice of dentistry and on society as a whole. The purpose of this study was to determine whether dental hygienists in Texas felt prepared and willing to treat the elderly in alternative practice settings such as nursing homes.
Methods: After institutional review board approval, a questionnaire was mailed to 500 hygienists. A 5% systematic sample of dental hygiene graduates was taken from four dental hygiene schools in Texas, United States of America (USA). Of these, 175 were returned for a 35% response rate. Questions asked were degree held, how prepared the participants felt to treat the special needs of the elderly, if participants were willing to work in alternative practice settings such as a nursing home and if they felt additional education was needed. Frequency distributions, correlations and chi square were used to analyse the data.
Results: Results revealed 86.5% of the respondents felt prepared to somewhat prepared to treat the special needs of the elderly based on education; equally, 86.5% felt more education was needed to better prepare them to treat the elderly. Over half of the respondents would not be willing to work in alternative practice settings such as nursing homes.
Conclusion: The average respondents do not feel fully prepared to treat the elderly with special needs, and they think more education is needed to better prepare them to treat this important target population.
© 2011 John Wiley & Sons A/S.