AIMS: Attitudes of dentists and dental hygienists towards extended scope and independent dental hygiene practice are described in several studies, but the results are heterogenous. The purpose of this systematic review was to compare the attitudes of dentists and dental hygienists towards extended scope and independent dental hygiene practice.
METHODS: PubMed, AMED and CINAHL were screened by two independent assessors to identify relevant studies. Only quantitative studies that reported the percentages of dentists' and dental hygienists' attitude towards extended scope and independent dental hygiene practice were included. The random-effects model was used to synthesise possible heterogenous influences.
RESULTS: Meta proportions with regard to a positive attitude towards extended scope of practice are 0.54 for dentists and 0.81 for dental hygienists. Meta proportions of a positive attitude towards independent practice are 0.14 for dentists and 0.59 for dental hygienists. A meta analysis with regard to negative attitudes could only be performed on extended scope of practice and did not reveal a difference between the two professions. We obtained homogeneous outcomes of the studies included regarding negative attitudes of dentists . A minority of dentists hold negative attitudes towards extended scope of dental hygiene practice. Study outcomes regarding negative attitudes of dental hygienists were heterogeneous.
CONCLUSIONS: Positive attitudes are present among a majority of dentists and dental hygienists with regard to extended scope of dental hygiene practice, while for independent dental hygiene practice this holds for a minority of dentists and a majority of dental hygienists.