Table 2.

Average responses concerning professional behavior, practice characteristics, and attitudes concerning treating special needs patients by dentists who perceived their education about these issues to have been negative, neutral, or positive

Professional BehaviorDental Education About Special Needs Patients Was
Negative*NeutralPositivep-value
*Responses to the statement “Dental school prepared me well for treating special needs patients” were given on a five-point scale ranging from 1 = “disagree strongly” to 5 = “agree strongly.” The category “negative” consists of respondents who answered with a “1” (disagree strongly) or “2” (disagree); the category “neutral” consists of respondents who answered with a “3“; and the category “positive” of respondents who answered with a “4” (agree) or “5” (agree strongly).
**This sum score was determined by adding the groups of pediatric and adult patients with nine types of disabilities (motion impaired, hearing impaired, vision impaired, mental retardation, autism, cerebral palsy, neurological disorder, Alzheimer’s/dementia, and closed head injury) the respondents treated. The score could range from 0 to 17 (because there are no children with Alzheimer’s disease).
*** Responses to the statements concerning practice characteristics and professional attitudes were given on a five-point scale ranging from 1 = “disagree strongly” to 5 = “agree strongly.”
Percentage of patients from low socioeconomic background17.38%25.29%25.00%<.05
Percentage of patients covered by Medicaid3.71%9.24%11.14%<.10
Number of adult special needs patients treated during an average week1.851.831.95n.s.
Number of pediatric special needs patients treated during an average week.741.232.05<.05
Sum score of patient groups treated**8.9310.6910.83<.10
Practice Characteristics***
My practice is not set up for the treatment of special needs patients.3.152.672.92<.01
My staff is comfortable treating special needs patients.3.063.233.92<.000
My staff is knowledgeable in treating special needs patients2.763.293.75<.000
Professional Attitudes***
I like to treat adult special needs patients.2.643.023.72<.000
I am confident treating special needs patients.3.173.563.96<.01