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Page history last edited by Pierre PLUYE 11 years, 11 months ago


Reis, C.  (2012). Perceptions and attitudes of McGill dental students towards poverty: A case study. McGill Family Medicine Studies Online, 07: e01. http://mcgill-fammedstudies-recherchemedfam.pbworks.com/w/page/49907393/MFMSO201207e01 Archived by WebCite® http://www.webcitation.org/64lhk0oRT



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Context: Evidence shows a strong positive correlation between poverty and numerous adverse health conditions, including oral health diseases. Low-income individuals face barriers in accessing and receiving dental care services due to many causes including tensions in their relationship with dentists. A solution to this problem lies in the training of a new generation of dentists. The education provided in dental school plays a key role in shaping the knowledge, ideas and attitudes of students towards poverty.

Objectives: To examine in-depth the perceptions and attitudes of final year dental students at McGill University towards poverty and the dental care provided to low-income patients. Secondary objectives: (i) To explore the extent to which students feel that their education in dentistry has prepared them to work with low-income patients; (ii) To understand if these perceptions shape students’ plan for their professional careers.

Methodology: A qualitative case study using a participatory approach was performed based on Paulo Freire’s theoretical concept of conscientização. The sources of data generation were semi-structured interviews (n=12), participant observation during the outreach program, and document analysis of students’ essays and of the website of the McGill Faculty of Dentistry. A deductive-inductive thematic analysis strategy was used to analyze the data.
Results: Dental students exhibited incipient conscientização about poverty-related themes; they perceived poverty as a distant subject, and as a responsibility of the government or of the poor individual themselves. They judged Canada’s dental health system as unfair to people living in poverty, but admitted having a lack of knowledge of dental services especially those offered in the welfare program, and were unable to propose strategies to ameliorate it. Students identified several challenges with respect to the McGill Dentistry outreach program including lack of continuity and comprehensiveness of care, as well as deficient compliance with clinical guidelines. Students did not present concrete plans to work with low-income communities in the future.

Conclusion: This research supports the need for dental education institutions to adopt strategies aiming to increase students’ critical consciousness towards oral health inequalities. Reducing oral health inequalities is a matter of social justice, and dental care providers are key social actors in this endeavour.

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