Perceived dentist and dental hygienist task distribution after dental and dental hygiene students' team intervention

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Attitudes of dental students regarding the provision of treatment tend to be dentist-centered; however, facilitating mixed student group formation could change such perceptions. The aim of this study was to investigate the perceived scope of practice of dental and dental hygiene students and whether their perceptions of task distribution between dentists and dental hygienists would change following an educational intervention consisting of feedback, intergroup comparison, and competition between mixed-group teams. The study employed a pretest-posttest single group design. Third-year dental students and second-year dental hygiene students at a university in The Netherlands were randomly assigned to intraprofessional teams (four or five members) and received team-based performance feedback and comparison. The intervention was finalized with an award ceremony for the best intraprofessional team. Before and after the intervention, students completed a questionnaire measuring their perceived distribution of ten tasks between dentists and dental hygienists. A total of 38 dental students and 32 dental hygiene students participated in the intervention-all 70 of those eligible. Questionnaires were completed by a total 88.4% (n=61) of the participants: 34 dental (89.5%) and 27 dental hygiene students (84.4%). Dental and dental hygiene students had similar perceptions regarding teeth cleaning (prophylaxis) (p=0.372, p=0.404) and, after the intervention, preventive tasks (p=0.078). Following the intervention, dental students considered four out of ten tasks as less dentist-centered: radiograph for periodontal diagnosis (p=0.003), local anesthesia (p=0.037), teeth cleaning (p=0.037), and periodontal treatment (p=0.045). Dental hygiene students perceived one task as being less dentist-centered after the intervention: radiograph for cariologic diagnosis (p=0.041). This study found that these dental and dental hygiene students had different opinions regarding the scope of practice for dentistry and dental hygiene. The number of redistributed tasks after the intervention was especially substantial among the dental students, although the amount of change per task was minimal. Half of all tasks were perceived as less dentist-centered as a result of the intervention.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)413-419
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Dental Education
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2017


  • dental care
  • dental hygienists
  • dentists
  • Female
  • interprofessional relations
  • professional role
  • students, dental


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