Objective: The most rapidly growing segment of America's population are those 65+. This is especially important for the health care industry which serves America's senior citizens. Students who are entering the health care field need to be knowledgeable about the facts on aging to be adequately informed clinicians. In this study, dental students completed a validated survey in order to evaluate their breadth of knowledge and attitudes about aging. Both the international Advanced Standing (AS) students (foreign-trained dentists) and traditional Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) students participated, and the overall as well as class-specific results were compared.
Methods: Both AS and DMD students from the academic years of 2008 – 2009 and 2009 – 2010 participated in the study. They completed a widely utilized instrument, the Facts on Aging quiz prior to the first session of a course in Geriatrics and Gerontology. The AS and DMD students quizzes were graded separately using scantron answer sheets.
Results: The results from the Facts on Aging Quizzes show a significant difference (P < .001) between the performance of the AS and DMD students. In both years, the DMD students were more knowledgeable about the facts on aging than the AS students. Both groups of students performed better on the quiz in the academic year of 2008 – 2009. Both groups of students also performed significantly better when answering the test questions which were based on a physiological component of aging, compared to the other questions on emotional or sociological components.
Conclusions: The study findings show that the DMD students appear to be more knowledgeable more about aging and the elderly than the AS students. Additionally, the study shows that dental students are more knowledgeable about physiological questions regarding aging in comparison to the emotional and sociological question.
Keywords: Aging, Education research, Elderly and Gerontology
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