Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)


Learning, Leadership and Change

First Advisor

Rachelle Kisst Hackett

First Committee Member

Allen Wong


This research explores final year dental students’ knowledge and attitudes towards the treatment and management of patients with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (I/DD) as related to variations in the dental practices in Special Health Care Needs (SHCN) training they received. A quantitative, non-experimental study was conducted, employing survey data collection methods, to address descriptive, comparative, and correlational questions. One cohort, Class 2020, attended extramural rotations in specialized clinics for patients with I/DD and in-person lecture concerning this topic. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and its health-related restrictions, another cohort, Class 2021, did not have the same opportunity as rotations were cancelled and the lecture was prerecorded and viewed online. Responses from a 35-item survey, distributed through an online platform, were obtained from both cohorts (n= 14 for Class 2020; n= 19 for Class 2021), addressing descriptive, comparative, and correlational research questions. Results revealed higher levels of knowledge and more positive perceptions of the program from Class 2020, the group that received clinical guidance, than Class of 2021. Analysis revealed positive relationships between students’ confidence levels and whether they had examined, assisted, or treated patients with I/DD. Associations were also found between students’ confidence and willingness to treat patients with I/DD. Although only correlational, this study’s findings suggest ways to foster students’ confidence and induce positive attitudes in dental school graduates that are likely to improve equitable access to healthcare for those with I/DD.





Rights Statement

Rights Statement

In Copyright. URI:
This Item is protected by copyright and/or related rights. You are free to use this Item in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use. For other uses you need to obtain permission from the rights-holder(s).