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Portuguese Journal of Public Health

Print version ISSN 2504-3137On-line version ISSN 2504-3145


HECTOR, Trevin; BALKARAN, Ramaa  and  MARCHAN, Shivaughn M.. Educational Experiences and Personal Attitudes of Dental Students toward Patients with Special Needs in Trinidad and Tobago. Port J Public Health [online]. 2023, vol.41, n.1, pp.19-25.  Epub Apr 30, 2023. ISSN 2504-3137.

This study ascertained dental students’ perceived educational experiences and attitudes toward patients with special needs at an English-speaking dental school in the Caribbean. A modified paper-based version of a previously validated survey instrument was used - Dental Students Attitudes’ Towards the Handicapped Scale - on a convenience sample of all clinical students at the dental school. The instrument was composed of three parts. Part 1 collected demographic information detailing age, gender, and year of study. Part 2 collected perceived educational experiences, and part 3 collected information regarding student attitudes. Data were presented descriptively, and likelihood ratios were used on cross-tabulated data to examine attitudes between different year groups at an alpha level of 0.05. Student attitudes were generally good regarding patients with special needs. Only 41% of students felt confident treating special needs patients upon graduation. The curriculum which already includes robust didactic teaching in special needs dentistry should be supplemented with increased clinical exposure to patients with special needs during undergraduate dental education. This can lead to improvements in the attitude of dental students as well as their confidence in treatment. Earlier clinical exposure of students to patients with special needs in the clinical curriculum is required. Students should also be encouraged to comprehensively manage special needs patients, where possible within the framework of the competency-based training model.

Keywords : Attitude; Dental students; Patients with special needs; Dentistry.

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