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Old Dominion University led a research team with the University of Michigan for a study of ways to assess dentists' readiness and capacity to prevent eating disorders.

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

Investigators collected data from 576 dentists and dental hygienists via a self-administered questionnaire that listed five criterion -- identification of oral manifestations of disordered eating, addressing concerns with the patient, prescribing oral treatment, patient referral, and case management.

Results were presented Saturday during the 83rd General Session of the International Association for Dental Research.

This article was posted on: March 14, 2005

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