Internet and information technology use by dental students in Chile

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Abstract

As part of a larger cross-country survey of dental students, students from the School of Dentistry, The University of Valparaiso, were invited to participate in a study to describe their use of information and communication technology (ICT). Information was derived from a 124-item questionnaire which included 14 socio-demographic items and 29 items asking about ICT use. ICT items were derived from a University of Birmingham, UK, battery. Data was collected in July and August 2004. A total of 162 of the 249 dental students participated in the study. The average age of students was 21.0 years (SD 2.4 years). The majority of participants (62.1%) were female. All participants had access to a computer, and 96.4% used the Internet. Most students had home Internet connections (73.4%). The most commonly used Internet sites on at least a weekly basis were: email (92.2%); and search engines (88.3%). However, a very few (21.1%) used the Internet to search for dental information for their studies on at least a weekly basis. Furthermore, although the majority (70.4%) found Internet use easy/very easy, 56.2% indicated that any search for information was easy/very easy. The majority (72.2%) indicated that the use of virtual education would not affect their class attendance. The final multivariate model explained 26% of the variance in ICT use, significant predictors for ICT use were gender, year of study, level of difficulty in using Internet, and place of Internet use. However, Internet use was mostly for non-dental purposes.

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