© 2005 American Dental Education Association

Published in Journal of Dental Education, Vol. 69 No. 12 (December 2005) at


The need for inclusion of comprehensive tobacco control education/training for health care providers continues to be stressed in publications addressing cessation services. The dental appointment presents an excellent opportunity to provide tobacco interventions to basically healthy people on regular intervals. The purpose of this study was twofold: 1) to assess the need (stage of change and concomitant need for tobacco cessation intervention) of dental hygiene patients at a Midwest dental hygiene clinic, and 2) to assess and compare the level of tobacco intervention education currently being offered by dental hygiene educators in a Midwestern state. Patients (n=426) of a collegiate dental health clinic completed a survey that assessed the level and type of tobacco cessation intervention patients might require. A statewide sample of dental hygiene faculty (n=97) were surveyed to determine the attitudes, perceived barriers, and current practices in tobacco education offered in their programs. Of patients who currently smoked (34.5 percent), 24.7 percent indicated being in the Action stage of change; 14.2 percent were in Preparation; 22.2 percent were in Contemplation; and 29 percent were in Precontemplation. Although faculty indicated tobacco education was very important (5.03 on 1-6 scale), they felt only moderately confident delivering tobacco education (3.18 on a 1-5 scale). Only 16 percent to 35 percent of faculty reported that their curriculum included brief motivational interviewing, pharmacotherapies, or setting-up a private practice tobacco control program. The results strongly suggest the need for a comprehensive, competency-based tobacco curriculum to enhance and expand existing dental hygiene programs.