Did intraprofessional training with dental therapists affect dental students' attitudes toward caring for the underserved?

Priscilla M Flynn, Makshita Luthra, Christine M Blue

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Dental therapy was recently introduced as a new oral health care workforce model to increase care for vulnerable populations in Minnesota. Nine dental therapy and 98 dental students began intraprofessional training at the University of Minnesota in 2009. The aim of this longitudinal study was to determine whether intraprofessional education with the dental therapy students would affect the dental students' attitudes toward earing for underserved populations. One class of dental students was surveyed annually between 2009 and 2013 using the Attitudes Toward Health Care survey to measure attitudinal changes about treating vulnerable patients across their four years of dental school. Participation ranged from 68% to 99% in each year. The results showed that the dental students had positive attitudes toward treating vulnerable patients on entering dental school, but their attitudes became less positive over the four years. While the composite survey results were similar to other studies using the same instrument, variations were seen by domain. These students' attitudes about societal expectations and personal efficacy remained stable, while their dentist/student responsibility and access to care attitudes showed statistically significant declines. Their positive attitudes toward treating the underserved declined over four years regardless of intraprofessional training with dental therapy students. As attitudes toward caring for vulnerable patients are shaped by both personal attitudes and societal norms, additional research is needed to determine whether the addition of an intentional curricular thread may alter results over time compared to intraprofessional training alone.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)162-168
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of dental education
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2017


  • Access to health care
  • Attitudes
  • Dental education
  • Dental therapy education
  • Intentions
  • Vulnerable populations


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