The impact of dental education on health disparities

Project: Research project

Project Details


Background: Attempts to reduce the startling oral health disparities in the US will only be effective and listing if oral health care providers are deeply committed and adequately prepared to actively participate in this process through effective clinical care as well as community leadership. As members of a profession in the classic sense of that term, dentists and hygienists carry a responsibility toward the public at large to insure effective oral health care for all patients in need of such care. This is, however, an ever more daunting challenge. The universities that educate future oral health care professionals are therefore obligated to adequately prepare their students for this challenge. Hypothesis: Professional dental and hygiene education inadequately prepares dentists and hygienists to realize their professional commitment towards vulnerable, marginalized, and other underserved patients through effective oral health care and community leadership. Objective: To develop, plan and formulate and interdisciplinary concerned research project aimed at the identification of curricular deficiencies, the design and subsequent assessment of innovative educational interventions, and the determination of implementation strategies. Approach: The planning grant should enable the following seven undertakings: 1. A comprehensive and detailed search and analysis of the literature. 2. A comprehensive inventory and analysis of exemplary educational activities that have been undertaken (un)successfully at dental schools and hygiene programs in the US, as well as abroad. 3. A diagnosis of educational voids that appear to contribute to oral health disparities. 4. The initial development of a conceptual and theoretical framework, incl. ethical questions of access and social justice in oral health care, and three pedagogy of service-learning. 5. The determination of a comprehensive educational, based on the results of the preceding steps. 6.The formulation of research questions derived from the desired educational changes. 7. The design of a research implementation process and development of one or more R01 grant(s). Limitation: In principle, graduating dentists and hygienists should be competent to address the needs of any underserved patient category. However, different categories may require different provider competencies and hence different curricular innovations. In this planning grant, three different patient categories will be examined: 1. Patients with advanced Alzheimer's Disease; 2. Patients of African-American descent; and 3. Recent immigrants.
Effective start/end date9/30/029/30/05


  • National Institutes of Health: $178,125.00
  • National Institutes of Health: $178,125.00


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