Methods: As part of a larger RCT evaluating a web-based training program on secondary prevention of eating disorders, a baseline Likert-type questionnaire was completed by 220 D and 167 DH students. Independent samples t-tests were conducted to compare D and DH students on the following perceptions and beliefs regarding secondary prevention: professional and legal roles, benefits and barriers, patient susceptibility, perceived severity, and self-efficacy. Post-hoc linear regression models were run to control for possible confounding factors including sex, clinical experience, and knowing someone with an eating disorder.
Results: DH students scored significantly higher than D students regarding perceptions of professional and legal roles, benefits, and self-efficacy (all p<.01). DH students also reported significantly fewer barriers to identifying, communicating with, and treating patients with signs of disordered-eating behaviors (p<.01). No significant differences were observed for perceived severity of disordered-eating (p=.15), but D students were more likely to perceive a wide variety of patients as being susceptible to disordered-eating behaviors. Differences remained significant even after controlling for potential confounders.
Conclusions: Differences in perceived role and beliefs regarding disordered-eating behaviors exist among D and DH students. Increasing knowledge and self-efficacy of identifying, communicating, and making referrals may influence future professional practice behaviors, thus strengthening their role to deliver oral/systemic secondary prevention with regard to disordered-eating behaviors. (NIH 1RC1DE020274-01)
Keywords: Behavioral science, Decision-making, Education research, Nutrition and Preventive dentistry
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