Effect on Dental Hygiene Students of a Substance Use Simulation Conducted with Nursing Students

J Dent Educ. 2018 May;82(5):469-474. doi: 10.21815/JDE.018.052.


Dental professionals have an opportunity to screen for substance use, provide targeted feedback based on patients' oral health, provide patient education, and refer for further assessment as needed. The aim of this study was to assess the impact on dental hygiene students of an interprofessional Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) educational intervention with standardized patients as a tool for initiating discussions on alcohol and drug use with patients. Starting in 2015, dental hygiene students in two classes at the University of Pittsburgh participated with nursing students in one and a half hours of didactic instruction followed within a ten-week period by SBIRT simulation scenarios utilizing standardized patients, with subsequent debriefing of students by faculty. Students' attitudes were assessed before and after the didactic session and immediately after the SBIRT simulation, using the Alcohol and Alcohol Problems Perceptions Questionnaire and the Drug and Drug Problems Perceptions Questionnaire. All 67 dental hygiene students in the program at the time participated in the educational intervention and surveys. The results showed significant positive changes in role security, defined as the acceptance of SBIRT delivery as part of their role identity as dental hygienists, following the intervention. This study found that the IPE intervention with dental hygiene and nursing students improved the dental hygiene students' attitudes through using SBIRT.

Keywords: alcohol and other drug use; allied dental education; brief intervention; dental hygiene; dental hygiene education; interprofessional education; nursing education; standardized patients; substance abuse; substance use.

MeSH terms

  • Dental Hygienists / education*
  • Education, Nursing*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interdisciplinary Communication*
  • Male
  • Patient Simulation*
  • Students, Health Occupations*
  • Students, Nursing
  • Substance-Related Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Young Adult