A study of statistics anxiety levels of graduate dental hygiene students

J Dent Hyg. 2015 Feb;89(1):46-54.

Abstract

Purpose: In light of increased emphasis on evidence-based practice in the profession of dental hygiene, it is important that today's dental hygienist comprehend statistical measures to fully understand research articles, and thereby apply scientific evidence to practice. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to investigate statistics anxiety among graduate dental hygiene students in the U.S.

Methods: A web-based self-report, anonymous survey was emailed to directors of 17 MSDH programs in the U.S. with a request to distribute to graduate students. The survey collected data on statistics anxiety, sociodemographic characteristics and evidence-based practice. Statistic anxiety was assessed using the Statistical Anxiety Rating Scale. Study significance level was α=0.05.

Results: Only 8 of the 17 invited programs participated in the study. Statistical Anxiety Rating Scale data revealed graduate dental hygiene students experience low to moderate levels of statistics anxiety. Specifically, the level of anxiety on the Interpretation Anxiety factor indicated this population could struggle with making sense of scientific research. A decisive majority (92%) of students indicated statistics is essential for evidence-based practice and should be a required course for all dental hygienists.

Conclusion: This study served to identify statistics anxiety in a previously unexplored population. The findings should be useful in both theory building and in practical applications. Furthermore, the results can be used to direct future research.

Keywords: anxiety; dental hygienists; evidence-based practice; graduate education; statistics.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anxiety*
  • Dental Hygienists / education*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Statistics as Topic*
  • Students, Dental / psychology*
  • Young Adult