Information-seeking strategies of dental hygienists

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As health care practitioners, dental hygienists need information-gathering skills and the confidence to both perform literature searches in Internet databases and assess the results in order to utilize the wealth of scientific literature that supports evidence-based practice. The aim of this study was to assess the information-seeking strategies of dental hygienists. A self-administered electronic survey of thirty-eight questions was sent to 5,007 licensed dental hygienists in District III of the American Dental Hygienists' Association. The overall response rate was 7.9 percent (396/5,007). Most (90.9 percent) of the respondents were currently practicing dental hygiene, with 62.9 percent having practiced more than ten years. Approximately 56 percent had graduated from a two-year dental hygiene program and had graduated before 1998. Nearly all of the respondents who graduated in 1999 or after were confident using a computer (96.2 percent) and the Internet (95.4 percent); lower percentages of the pre-1999 graduates expressed such confidence (68.6 percent using a computer and 80.7 percent using the Internet). Most respondents (90.9 percent) who graduated in 1999 or after reported receiving evidence-based decision making (EBDM) training in their dental hygiene program-an increase over the 51.8 percent of pre-1999 graduates who reported having received it-though lower percentages (78.2 and 48.0 percent, respectively) reported thinking their EBDM training was adequate. Though the response rate was low, these results may suggest that information-gathering skills are being more effectively addressed in recent dental hygiene education than previously. Continuing education courses that teach hands-on navigation of databases and methods to search the scientific literature and analytically appraise it could increase both the skills and comfort level of dental hygienists, especially those who graduated more than a decade ago.

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