Effects of a Comprehensive Oral Health Curriculum on Knowledge, Behavior, and Attitude of Physician Assistant Students

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Oral health assessment by the medical provider needs to be thorough and accurate. Many schools for medical providers are providing an increasing amount of oral health education to students during the didactic year. A dedicated and comprehensive oral health curriculum was developed for a physician assistant (PA) program in Virginia for the purpose of evaluating the effectiveness of the curriculum for changing students' attitudes, behavior, and knowledge.


First- and fourth-semester PA students attended about 18 hours of lectures, laboratories, and clinical experiences dedicated to oral health. The change in student attitude, behavior, and knowledge of oral health and assessment was assessed using a validated precurricular and postcurricular survey.


The responses to the precurricular and postcurricular surveys were compared using paired t-tests. The analysis revealed an overall significant increase (P < .001) in attitude and knowledge of oral health after the curriculum intervention. The only significant change noted in student behavior was an increase in flossing frequency.


The oral health curriculum was successful in changing the attitude and knowledge of all students, regardless of their level of education in PA school. Therefore, an oral health curriculum conceivably could be added to a medical education program at any time that the course load allows for additional hours.

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