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Revista Panamericana de Salud Pública

On-line version ISSN 1680-5348Print version ISSN 1020-4989


SMITLEY, Michelle G.; WALDMAN, H. Barry; PERLMAN, Steven P.  and  OCANTO, Romer A.. Latin American and Caribbean dental schools: teaching about special needs. Rev Panam Salud Publica [online]. 2009, vol.25, n.4, pp.322-327. ISSN 1680-5348.

OBJECTIVES: Assess the extent of the teaching of care for individuals with special needs in schools of dentistry in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), and deans and program directors' willingness to introduce such programmatic modules into the curricula. METHODS:The survey instrument (a short-answer questionnaire modeled from the U.S. Curriculum Assessment of Needs Project) was delivered to a survey sample gleaned from all LAC dental schools listed in the World Health Organization (WHO) World Directory of Medical Schools through a Web-based survey tool that delivered the questionnaire via e-mail and stored and displayed responses graphically and in real time. Schools with incorrect or insufficient e-mail/contact information or a primary working language other than Spanish or Portuguese were excluded from the study. A total of three attempts (by e-mail and telephone) were made to follow up nonrespondents. RESULTS: More than half of the 142 respondents indicated their students were receiving less than 5 hours of didactic training and less than 5 hours of clinical training in the care of individuals with special needs. Of these 142 respondents, 23% and 30%, respectively, reported that no curricula hours were needed for didactic or clinical training focused exclusively on care of individuals with special needs. Emphasis on the difficulties in developing such programs was placed on lack of faculty experienced in the care of patients with special needs. CONCLUSION: There is a need for increased didactic and clinical preparation of graduates of LAC dental schools in the care of individuals with special health needs.

Keywords : Oral health; International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health; Latin America; Caribbean Region.

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