Theses Doctoral

A National Survey of Dental Hygiene Faculty Perspectives on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Cahoon, Marija Lee

Racial and ethnic diversity in dental hygiene education remains low. Dental hygiene education has largely focused on integrating cultural competence education to meet the needs of the diverse patient populations. Dental and dental hygiene educators as practicing clinicians share the responsibility for meeting the needs of disadvantaged populations, since research has demonstrated the high level of influence dental and dental hygiene education has on the professional attitudes and behaviors of future oral health providers.

Little to no studies exist on the current perceptions of racism among dental hygiene educators. Color-blind racial ideologies (CBRI) constitute a modern form of racial prejudice that remains a barrier to reducing instances of racism. This study investigated potential unconscious bias related to color-blind racial attitudes among dental hygiene educators using the 20-item, Color-Blind Racial Attitudes Scale. Of the 172 potential respondents, 89 (52%) completed all of the survey questions.

The majority of the respondents were White, female and from the Northeast (74.2%, 93.3%, and 61.8% respectively). The mean CoBRAS score (55.73) indicated moderate levels of color-blind racial attitudes. Race was a significant variable in perceptions of racial dynamics and racism with statistically significant differences between groups as demonstrated by one-way ANOVA (F[6,82] = 3.496, p = .004). Elevated levels of color-blind racial attitudes among dental hygieneeducators were found, indicating a presence of cognitive aspects of stereotyping related to race. The demographic data collected adds to the existing evidence of a lack of diversity among dental hygiene faculty. To advance initiatives for diversity, equity, and inclusion in dental hygiene education, faculty professional development is warranted.

Geographic Areas


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Health and Behavior Studies
Thesis Advisors
Allegrante, John P.
Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University
Published Here
June 7, 2023