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Environmental Sustainability: The Attitudes and Experiences of UK Students in the Oral Healthcare Professions

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posted on 2023-12-23, 15:03 authored by Nicolas MartinNicolas Martin, Olivia Durnall, Jonathan DixonJonathan Dixon, Steven MulliganSteven Mulligan

Objective: This study aims to provide insight into the attitudes and perspectives of undergraduate dental students from UK dental schools regarding Environmental Sustainability in Dentistry (ESD) and the manner and extent in which ESD is included in the current undergraduate Oral Healthcare curricula

Methods: This study is a multi-centre, nationally representive study involving a cross sectional online survey of undergraduate BDS and DH&DT students in UK based dental schools. Data analysis was conducted through descriptive statistics and thematic analysis.

Ethical approval was obtained from the University of Sheffield’s Research Ethics Committee (Application 044529)

Results: 263 students from thirteen UK schools completed the survey, resulting in a national school response rate of 68.4%. Key findings are: 97.3% of students believe that the dental profession should be more actively engaged in environmental sustainability, however students currently having very little exposure to ESD at an undergraduate level. 76.8% of students expressed that they are concerned about the impact that oral healthcare provision has on the environment, but only 23% of students have independently researched ESD.

Conclusions: Students identify that oral healthcare professionals should become more engaged in efforts to mitigate the negative impacts from our activities on the environment, principally via education at all levels. The data from this study provides insight into the current level of awareness and concerns for the environmental impacts of oral healthcare provision, and is a powerful driver for the inclusion of ESD into the undergraduate curriculum in UK based dental schools.

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