© 2010 American Dental Education Association

Published in Journal of Dental Education, Vol. 74 No. 10 (October 2010) at


Tobacco dependence education (TDE) continues to be a vital component of dental hygiene curricula-made even more important by the fact that tobacco cessation in adults in the United States has stagnated over the past ten years. This study was undertaken to assess the salient characteristics of TDE in U.S. dental hygiene programs. A fifty-one question survey was mailed to the program directors of all 283 accredited dental hygiene programs during the 2007-08 school year (this number does not include the programs in Illinois, which were excluded since they had participated in a previous study). A total of 187 schools returned the survey for a return rate of 66 percent. Curricular content, minutes spent on each topic, existing level of clinical competence measured, expected level of clinical competence, and resources used were assessed. Respondents reported an average of 6.7 hours spent on all identified components of tobacco education. While 77 percent of respondents reported formally assessing whether a student asked if a patient used tobacco, only 26 percent indicated having a formal competency utilizing all of the U.S. Public Health Service's Clinical Practice Guideline 5 As and 5 Rs. In contrast, 72 percent of program directors reported expecting their graduates to be competent in a moderate intervention that included all 5 As. Though there is a clear commitment to TDE among dental hygiene programs in the United States, we recommend training to a more intensive level of TDE in order to facilitate broader adoption of comprehensive, evidence-based guidelines.