881 Oral Health Students' Perceptions on Addressing Signs of Disordered-Eating Behaviors

Friday, March 23, 2012: 2 p.m. - 3:15 p.m.
Presentation Type: Poster Session
R.D. DEBATE1, D. CRAGUN1, H.H. SEVERSON2, U.S. HANUBAL1, F.A. LAGA1, and A.A. GALLENTINE1, 1Department of Community and Family Health, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL, 2Deschutes Research, Inc, Eugene, OR
Objectives: Although disordered-eating behaviors (i.e., caloric restriction, skipping meals, laxative/diuretic/diet pill misuse, self-induced vomiting) leads to a number of oral health issues, few oral health providers (OHPs) report actively identifying signs/symptoms, communicating findings with patients and making referrals for treatment (i.e., secondary prevention). Role perceptions and beliefs have been found to correlate significantly with secondary prevention behaviors among practicing OHPs. This study sought to determine the extent to which these perceptions and beliefs differ among dental (D) and dental hygiene (DH) students.

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)

This abstract is based on research that was funded entirely or partially by an outside source: NIH 1RC1DE020274-01

Keywords: Behavioral science, Decision-making, Education research, Nutrition and Preventive dentistry