503 Endodontic Care for Underserved Patients: Residents, Faculty, and Endodontists’ Perceptions

Thursday, March 22, 2012: 3:30 p.m. - 4:45 p.m.
Presentation Type: Poster Session
P. BAUER, M. DHARIA, N. MCDONALD, and M.R. INGLEHART, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
Objectives: Access to dental care is difficult for patients from socio-economically disadvantaged and/or underrepresented minority backgrounds and for patients with special healthcare needs.  The purpose of this study was (a) to explore how endodontic residents and faculty members as well as endodontists in private practice settings evaluate their educational experiences concerning treating underserved patients, and (b) to assess their professional attitudes and behavior concerning providing care for these patients. In addition, the relationship between the quality of educational experiences and professional attitudes and behaviors was explored as well.

Methods: Survey data were collected from 78 endodontic residents, 75 practicing endodontists, and 48 endodontic faculty members in US specialty programs.

Results: Concerning the clinical, classroom-based, and community-based graduate education, residents perceived that they were better prepared to treat patients with special needs, patients on Medicaid, and patients as pro bono cases compared to clinicians. Faculty members had the most positive attitudes concerning treating these underserved patients and endodontists in private practice had the least positive attitudes. Endodontists in private practice were least likely to treat socio-economically disadvantaged patients. The perceived quality of the educational experiences correlated significantly with the respondents’ attitudes concerning providing care for underserved patients. For example, the better they felt prepared to treat patients from different ethnic/racial backgrounds, the more they liked to treat these patients (r=.428; p<.001); the better prepared they were for treating patients with special needs, the more they liked to treat these patients (r=.321; p=.006), and the more confident they were to provide their care (r=.457; p<.001).

Conclusions: These results demonstrate the need to prepare endodontists about underserved populations during their graduate education in order to improve their professional attitudes and behavior concerning providing care for these patients.

Keywords: Access, Education research, Endodontics, Health services research and special needs
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