U.S. Dental Hygiene Students' Perceptions of Interprofessional Collaboration.J Dent Educ 2016; 80(9):1041-8JD
Patients with complex medical conditions require collaboration among multiple health care providers, and dental hygienists must be prepared to communicate effectively with medical providers to provide comprehensive quality patient care. The aim of this study was to assess U.S. dental hygiene students' attitudes about interprofessional collaboration (IPC) and identify any differences based on age, year in program, and program location. Participants were limited to students enrolled in dental hygiene associate degree programs across the United States. In response to an email soliciting participation sent to all dental hygiene program directors, 504 students completed the Interdisciplinary Education Perception Scale (IEPS) online (response rate could not be calculated). The IEPS is a validated survey that measures attitudes about interprofessional collaboration. The majority of the respondents were female (97%) and under 30 years of age (74.6%). Their mean scores indicated positive attitudes about IPC. There were no statistically significant differences in scores by age (p=0.700) or program location (p=0.527). There were also no statistically significant differences between first- and second-year students for total mean scores (p=0.106); for the competency and autonomy subscale (p=0.125); and for the perception of actual cooperation subscale (p=0.890). There was a statistically significant difference between first- and second-year students on the perception of actual cooperation subscale, with first-year students scoring higher than second-year students (p=0.016). This study's findings of positive attitudes about IPC and that age and program location had little bearing on the responses suggest that associate degree dental hygiene students may welcome the interprofessional education that will prepare them for practice in the future.