Are Dutch dental students and dental-care providers competent prescribers of drugs?

Eur J Oral Sci. 2019 Dec;127(6):531-538. doi: 10.1111/eos.12658. Epub 2019 Dec 10.


Dental students and dental-care providers should be able to prescribe drugs safely and effectively. As it is unknown whether this is the case, we assessed and compared the prescribing competence of dental students and dental-care providers in the Netherlands. In 2017, all Dutch final-year dental students and a random sample of all qualified general dental practitioners and dental specialists (oral and maxillofacial surgeons and orthodontists) were invited to complete validated prescribing knowledge-assessment and skills-assessment instruments. The knowledge assessment comprised 40 multiple-choice questions covering important drug topics. The skills assessment comprised three common clinical case scenarios. For the knowledge assessment, the response rates were 26 (20%) dental students, 28 (8%) general dental practitioners, and 19 (19%) dental specialists, and for the skills assessment the response rates were 14 (11%) dental students, eight (2%) general dental practitioners, and eight (8%) dental specialists. Dental specialists had higher knowledge scores (78% correct answers) than either dental practitioners (69% correct answers) or dental students (69% correct answers). A substantial proportion of all three groups made inappropriate treatment choices (35%-49%) and prescribing errors (47%-70%). Although there were some differences, dental students and dental-care providers in the Netherlands lack prescribing competence, which is probably because of poor prescribing education during under- and postgraduate dental training. Educational interventions are urgently needed.

Keywords: dental education; medication; pharmacology; postgraduate; undergraduate.

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Competence*
  • Dentists*
  • Drug Prescriptions / standards*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Netherlands
  • Professional Role
  • Students, Dental*