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Dental practitioners can be instrumental in preventing their patients' eating disorders

Baltimore, MarylandDental practitioners play a crucial role in the early identification, referral, and case management of their patients with eating disorders, yet little has been reported regarding current secondary prevention practices. Dental professionals are often the first health care providers to identify manifestations of disordered-eating behavior.

A research team from Old Dominion University (Norfolk, VA) and the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor) conducted a study was to assess dentists' readiness and capacity to prevent disordered eating. Reporting their findings today during the 83rd General Session of the International Association for Dental Research, the investigators collected data from 576 dentists and dental hygienists via a self-administered questionnaire that listed five criterion-specific secondary prevention behaviors: identification of oral manifestations of disordered eating, addressing concerns with the patient, prescribing oral treatment, patient referral, and case management.

Results showed that fewer than 44% of practitioners currently assessed their patients for eating disorders, and fewer than 43% prescribed specific home dental-care instructions. Approximately 20% arranged a more frequent recall program, while only 20% of dentists and 17% of dental hygienists referred patients for treatment. Only 12.6% of dentists and 7.3% of hygienists reported communicating with the patient's primary care provider.

Increased chances for secondary prevention behaviors among dental hygienists were associated with greater self-efficacy, knowledge of oral cues, and perceived severity of eating disorders. Among dentists, greater perceived benefits of secondary prevention behaviors were found to increase the likelihood of patient referral.


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Contact: Linda T. Hemphill
lhemphill@iadr.org
703-299-8091
International & American Association for Dental Research
12-Mar-2005


Page: 1

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