|Year : 2017 | Volume
| Issue : 3 | Page : 181-183
Assessment of attitude toward community service among dental students of Tertiary Care Teaching Hospital in South India
B Sujith Anand, K. V. N. R. Pratap, T Madhavi Padma, V Siva Kalyan, P Vineela, Surya Chandra Varma
Department of Public Health Dentistry, Mamata Dental College, Khammam, Telangana, India
|Date of Web Publication||7-Aug-2017|
B Sujith Anand
Department of Public Health Dentistry, Mamata Dental College, Khammam - 507 002, Telangana
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
Introduction: The dental health care providers and their community service in any nation play a pivotal role in bridging the gap between the oral health care and social service system. Understanding that there is a shortage and disparity in the oral health services provided, a greater emphasis on its awareness and education is the present need; thus, the aim of the study is to assess the attitude toward community service among dental students. Methodology: A cross-sectional questionnaire-based study was conducted among undergraduate dental students who were present on the day of study, and their attitude toward community service was assessed using a standardized Community Service Attitude Scale which consists of eight domains. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics, Chi-square test, and ANOVA. The level of significance was set at P < 0.05. Results: The total participants included were 171. The levels of attitude toward community service among the study participants based on year (P = 0.0492), gender (P = 0.00482), and voluntary activity (P = 0.042) were found to be statistically significant. Conclusion: The attitude toward community service is influenced by gender and year of study. Hence, any practical training program with regard to service learning in their undergraduate curriculum would highly contribute to influence their attitude toward community service.
Keywords: Attitude, community service, dental, India
|How to cite this article:|
Anand B S, Pratap K, Padma T M, Kalyan V S, Vineela P, Varma SC. Assessment of attitude toward community service among dental students of Tertiary Care Teaching Hospital in South India. Indian J Dent Sci 2017;9:181-3
|How to cite this URL:|
Anand B S, Pratap K, Padma T M, Kalyan V S, Vineela P, Varma SC. Assessment of attitude toward community service among dental students of Tertiary Care Teaching Hospital in South India. Indian J Dent Sci [serial online] 2017 [cited 2021 Jun 19];9:181-3. Available from: http://www.ijds.in/text.asp?2017/9/3/181/212396
| Introduction|| |
Oral health is essential for general health, but not all have access to the oral health care services they need; the frail elderly, patient who have special needs or medically compromised, homeless people, young children, poor people, and patients in racial/ethnic minority groups face considerable barriers in accessing dental care and have poorer oral health than the rest of the population. Shortages in an appropriately trained workforce to serve the oral health needs of these populations may be one of the barriers. Hence, an oral health workforce who are appropriately trained and willing to treat these vulnerable populations can help alleviate the barrier to access the care and eventually reduce oral health disparities. Dental schools could play an important role in this situation. Therefore, whether a dentist is willing or reluctant to provide care for patients with special needs plays a vital role which could be rooted in his or her dental education.
More exposure and experience in providing care to the underserved can greatly improve dental students' awareness of community needs and attitude toward community service. According to Coe et al., the effect of dental education on student attitude toward underserved population has proved that  senior dental students' positive attitudes toward a homeless population improved further after spending 7 weeks of community service. Among studies on the effect of education in general and community-based education in particular on medical students' attitudes toward underserved populations, some have documented declining attitudes and idealism as students and residents progress through their training. As attitude toward community service plays a vital role in community service and while there is limited data directly related to students' attitude toward community service, this study was conducted with an aim to assess the attitude toward community service among dental students. The objectives of the study are to assess the attitude toward community service based on year of study, gender, and voluntary activity.
| Methodology|| |
A cross-sectional questionnaire (close-ended)-based study was conducted among 3rd year, 4th year dental students, and interns in a private dental institution by obtaining an ethical clearance from the Institutional Ethical Review Board. By using sample of convenience, sample size was collected in which a total of 171 dental students were participated. The study was conducted in the month of October 2016 during the working hours from 9 am to 4 pm. Study participants who were present on the day of the study are included, and participants who were not willing to participant in the study are excluded from the study. The examiner has distributed the questionnaire to the participants. Informed consent was taken from each participant.
Student's attitude toward community service was assessed by using Community Service Attitude Scale (CSAS)., This scale had 46 items assessing community service attitudes in eight scales: Awareness, connectedness, normative helping behavior, costs, benefits, career benefits, seriousness, and intention to community service.
Questions measuring CSAS were distributed in the questionnaire in the same order as Shiarella et al.'s instrument. Questions 1–12 used seven-point Likert scale of extremely likely: Being 7; quite likely, slightly likely, neither likely nor unlikely, slightly unlikely, quite unlikely, and extremely unlikely: Being 1; while questions 13–46 used seven-point Likert scale of strongly agree: Being 7; agree, slightly agree, neither agree nor disagree, slightly disagree, disagree, and strongly disagree: Being 1. The rest of the questionnaire asked about demographics and student characteristics such as age, gender, and volunteer activities.
Pilot study was conducted among thirty 3rd year, 4th year, and interns to know the reliability of the questionnaire for which Cronbach's alpha was found to be 0.8.
After data collection, the obtained data were entered in the excel sheet and descriptive statistics were calculated by using IBM SPSS Software 20.0 version (IBM Corp Released 2012.IBM SPSS Statistics for Windows, Version 20.0, Armonk, NY: IBM Corp). The level of significance was set at P < 0.05.
| Results|| |
A total of 171 students have participated in the study after giving their consent. The mean age of the study participants was 21.8 ± 3.2 (standard deviation) years. The summary of the sociodemographic characteristics including voluntary activity is shown in [Table 1].
|Table 1: Distribution of respondents by sex, years of study and Voluntary Activities|
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[Figure 1] depicts the association between levels of attitude with gender, it was found that overall majority of the study population has medium attitude toward community service among which females (79%) have more attitude when compared to males (60%) which was found to be statistically significant (P = 0.0492).
[Figure 2] depicts the association between levels of attitude with years of study, it was found that majority of 3rd year students (94.12%) have medium attitude toward community service when compared with 4th year students (72.92%) and interns (63.04%) which was found to be statistically significant (P = 0.0048).
[Figure 3] depicts the association between levels of attitude with voluntary activity, it was found that the study population who had participated in voluntary activities previously had more medium attitude (80.83%) when compared with the participants who had not participated in the voluntary activity previously (66.67%).
|Figure 3: Association between levels of attitude with voluntary activities|
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| Discussion|| |
The purpose of community service in medical education is to cultivate community-responsible health professionals. The community service attitude provides dental students with a greater ability to work within a community setting, identify community health problems, utilize community resources, and cooperate with others in the community. So the present study was conducted to assess their attitudes which revealed that females had high attitude toward community service than males. This could be because females are more likely than males to care for, help and nurture others  which is similar to the study conducted by Crandall et al., and Habibian et al., and is contrast to the study conducted by Leung et al.
Our study found that 3rd years have more community service attitude than 4th years and interns similar to the study conducted by Habibian et al. and Volvovsky et al. This is due to the 3rd years have more idealistic attitudes in the beginning; later, their attitudes become realistic and their attitude to serve the community declines across the years; this is in similar to the study conducted by Major et al.(2016) and Singh et al. Holtzman and Seirawan  assessed the impact of community-based oral health experiences on 1st year dental students' attitudes toward caring for the underserved and did not find improvement in attitude toward community service.
In our study, attitude was high among the students who had participated in voluntary activity previously when compared to those who have not participated in a voluntary activity; this is due to students with more volunteering experiences held more positive attitudes concerning the dentist/student responsibility toward community service and these students could be more caring or more aware of the needs of underserved patients, which is similar to the study conducted by Habibian et al. and Coe et al.
Limitations of this study are the use of a single dental school sample, lack of a nondental comparison group, and less sample size, so as a result, generalization of the study cannot be done.
| Conclusion|| |
Our study demonstrated that our dental students have positive attitudes toward underserved populations, with females having more positive attitudes than males. Nevertheless, their attitudes declined during the 4 years of dental school. Further study is needed to investigate why those attitudes changed and how students' educational experiences can be used to positively impact their attitudes.
Financial support and sponsorship
Conflicts of interest
There are no conflicts of interest.
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[Figure 1], [Figure 2], [Figure 3]