Pediatric Dental Education Improves Interprofessional Healthcare Students' Clinical Competence in Children's Oral Health Assessment

Dent J (Basel). 2019 Nov 13;7(4):106. doi: 10.3390/dj7040106.

Abstract

Primary care and healthcare providers can facilitate children's timely referral to a dental home. However, there are few studies of providers' oral health knowledge and clinical skills. This study aims to improve future healthcare providers' knowledge, confidence, attitude, and clinical competence in assessing children's oral health. Sixty-five health professional students participated in a 10-week didactic and clinical curriculum on children's oral health. Fifty students completed pre- and post-training questionnaires and were assessed in their knowledge, confidence, and attitude. Calibrated examiners graded students' clinical skills on a 24-point grading criterion. Descriptive statistics, paired sample t-test, and Pearson correlation were used in data analyses. Students were in dentistry (46%), nursing (28%), medicine (22%), and pharmacy (3%). Students significantly improved in knowledge (t = -7.71, p < 0.001), confidence (t = -10.30, p = <0.001), and attitude (t = -4.24, p = <0.001). Students on average scored 83% on clinical competence, with the highest average for fluoride varnish application (96%) and lowest for providing anticipatory guidance (69%). There was a moderate correlation between improvement in knowledge and their clinical skills (r = 0.39, p = 0.010). Interprofessional education improves students' knowledge, confidence, attitude, and clinical competence in assessing children's oral health. Such education is necessary in guiding future providers to gain adequate competence in serving children's oral health needs.

Keywords: access to care; children’s oral health; clinical competency; interprofessional education; oral health assessment; oral health disparity; oral health education; pediatric dentistry; primary care; public health dentistry.