Assessment of the attitude of undergraduate dental students towards the geriatric population in prosthodontics.

Dr Saravanan Thirumalai Thangarajan

Sri Ramachandra University, Chennai, India

The world health organization, in 1984, established that people, 60 years and above are considered elderly in developing countries, and referred old age as a period of life when impairment of physical conditions manifest frequently. These elderly patients have low expectations of oral health, which needs to be changed by the trained dental professionals. Training in Geriatric Dentistry would enable the dentist students to understand and empathize with the psychological behavior of the elderly, especially those suffering from chronic medical illness. The training of future dentists, who will care for geriatric patients, needs to improve in accordance with the exponential increase in the ageing population. The participants (undergraduate students) should improve their knowledge, attitude and skills with regard to management of the older people as they increasingly encounter them. Thus it is important to inculcate an empathetic attitude in participants, towards the geriatric population.    

Methodology (Materials and Method):

Questionnaire Details:
The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Geriatric Attitude Scale has been validated for measuring attitudes toward older patients, among primary care residents in the United States and it has also been validated for use in medical students.

The questions were divided into three groups

 (a) General Social Statements (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 9); 
 (b) Statements about financial support of the elderly (6, 7, 8); 
 (c) Statements about the physical situations and health care of the elderly (10, 11, 12, 13, 14).

The UCLA questionnaire consisted of a mixture of 14 positively and negatively worded statements answered on a five-point scale ranging from ‘Strongly disagree’ (one point) to ‘Strongly Agree’ (five points) and a rating of 3 indicated a neutral response. The scores will be tabulated in accordance with Ruben et al.’s original article,] in which scores on negatively worded statements were reversed before being added to the score on positively worded statements, to produce a total score. 

This produced a mean UCLA questionnaire score.
Sample size:  Around 1300 students
Qualification of sample: Clinical year students – 3rd,4th years and CRIs of various colleges

Result and Conclusion:
The data collected will be statistically analysed and the result will be interpreted which will be utilized to develop skills and right attitude for undergraduate students towards Geriatric patient care in Prosthodontics.