Table 3.

Correlations between answers concerning dental education and professional behavior, practice characteristics, and attitudes concerning treating special needs patients

Undergraduate education prepared me well to treat patients withDental school prepared me well*
special needs*mental retardation*
*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.”
Professional Behavior
Percentage of patients from low socioeconomic background.193
 p<.01.186
 p<.01.167
 p<.05
Percentage of patients covered by Medicaid.142
 p<.05.162
 p<.05.139
 p<.10
Number of adult special needs patients treated during an average week−.001
 n.s..003
 n.s..014
 n.s.
Number of pediatric special needs patients treated during an average week.184
 p<.05.177
 p<.05.149
 p<.05
Sum score of patient groups treated**.151
 p<.05.205
 p<.01.132
 p<.10
Practice Characteristics***
My practice is not set up for the treatment of special needs patients.−.274
 p<.001−.214
 p<.01−.227
 p<.01
My staff are comfortable treating special needs patients..332
 p<.001.306
 p<.001.303
 p<.001
My staff are knowledgeable in treating special needs patients..427
 p<.001.452
 p<.001.443
 P<.001
Professional Attitudes***
I like to treat adult special needs patients..349
 p<.001.349
 p<.001.374
 p<.001
I am confident treating special needs patients..259
 p<.001.286
 p<.001.263
 P<.001