2009 Scientific Abstract Competition

Hispanic Dental Association Announces
2009 Arturo Santiago / Dentsply International
Scientific Abstract Competition Award Winner

Dental researchers with an interest in optimizing oral health for the Hispanic community participated this year in the 2009 Arturo Santiago / Dentsply International Scientific Research Competition at the Hispanic Dental Association’s 17th Annual Meeting in Houston, Texas. The competition, which took place on Saturday, October 24, 2009, was chaired by Dr. Maritza Morell. The competition was sponsored by HDA Corporate Roundtable Sponsor Dentsply International, and is an annual competition with a financial prize of $1,000 awarded to the winner.

This year’s judges were Drs. Ivonne Ganem, Martha Baez, and Fernando Romero. The winner, Kirstina Gratz, of the University of Iowa, College of Dentistry, was presented with her award at the Gala Ceremonies.

Dr. Maritza Morell and Dr. Francisco Ramos-Gomez, 2009 HDA President, are photographed below with winner, Kirstina Gratz.

Winning Abstract:  Dental Students’ Willingness to Treat Underserved Populations

K.J. Moreno Gratz, M.R. McQuistan DDS MA, R.A. Kuthy DDS MPH, F. Qian PhD,
The University of Iowa, College of Dentistry, Iowa City, IA.



Objective:  The purpose of this study was to assess dental students’ feelings, competence and comfort treating underserved populations, including non-English speaking and persons of other ethnic backgrounds, based on the students’ year of education.

Methods:  Surveys were developed to assess first year (D1) and second-fourth year (D2-D4) students’ attitudes towards treating 13 underserved populations (15 and 21 items, respectively).  The surveys queried students about their feelings toward treating underserved populations 5 years post graduation and their current perceived competence and confidence to treat underserved populations.  After obtaining IRB approval, the surveys were distributed to all students during the 2008-09 academic year (N=t311). Descriptive statistics and frequencies were calculated.

Results:  281 surveys were completed for a response rate of 90.3%.  Students’ feelings towards treating underserved populations post graduation changed from more positive to mixed responses as students advanced through school.  Students were most positive toward treating other ethnic group and children under 3 years old and most negative toward treating homebound and jail inmates. Overall, students are the most comfortable treating other ethnic groups and low-income populations and least comfortable treating medically complex and mentally compromised patients.  Students’ perceived competence in treating all populations increased with each year of school.  However, most students felt they required more training with medically complex, frail elderly and non-English speaking patients.

Conclusion:  Although students feel comfortable treating most underserved populations and they’re perceived competence increases as they progress through school, their attitudes toward treating these populations decreases.  Experiences should be developed for dental students to help minimize their change in attitude.