Date of Award

Fall 2014

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Dental Hygiene


Dental Hygiene

Committee Director

Ann Bruhn

Committee Member

Tara Newcomb

Committee Member

Bridget Giles

Call Number for Print

Special Collections LD4331.D46 B725 2014


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to determine dental hygienists' interests, formal education, views, comfort levels, and intentions for becoming involved in disaster preparedness and response as measured by a 21-item survey entitled "Victim Identification for Disaster Preparedness & Response: A Survey of Dental Hygienists". Methods: A nonprobability convenience sample (n=400) was recruited for an online survey. Data was analyzed for statistical significance using descriptive statistics, chisquare goodness-of-fit tests, a Mann-Whitney U test, and a paired-samples t-test. Similar themes were identified and categorized from open-ended questions. Results: A response rate of 83.5% (n=334) was attained. Regardless of years of work experience, 85.6% of respondents were significantly interested in disaster preparedness and response, and the majority (91.6%) of those who indicated interest have intentions for becoming involved. A significant number of respondents (92.8%) denied receiving formal education in disaster preparedness and response, yet an overwhelming 94.9% shared the view that dental hygienists could have a vital role in this specialty area. When dental hygienists were questioned about comfort levels with disaster victim identification (DVI) activities, there was a 9% mean increase in perceived comfort levels for activities involving no contact with human remains when compared to activities requiring contact. Still, most respondents indicated perceived comfort with DVI activities requiring physical contact such as: taking photographs (76.2%, n=254), taking radiographs (83%, n=273), resecting the mandible (55.1 %, n=184), and cleaning skeletonized remains (66.8%, n=221). Conclusion: Dental hygienists are interested in disaster preparedness and response and have a desire to be involved. Despite a lack of formal education on this topic, dental hygienists view themselves as professionals who could have a vital role in this specialty area and they are comfortable with DVI related tasks. Since disaster preparedness and response training is critical to best provide assistance in MFI response, inclusion of this topic should be available in the dental hygiene community. Collaborations with expert disaster preparedness and response organizations should be considered and competencies are needed to create educational opportunities for dental hygienists who choose to serve their communities.


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