Factors Influencing Dental Hygiene Job Retention in the Private Practice Setting

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Dental Hygiene


Dental Hygiene

Committee Director

Michele L. Darby

Committee Member

Pamela P. Brangan

Committee Member

Denise Bowen

Committee Member

Deborah Miller

Call Number for Print

Special Collections LD4331.D46H36


The purpose of this study was to determine what role the following factors have in influencing dental hygienists to remain in a private practice employment setting for five or more years: (1) working conditions, (2) the employer and the organizational structure of the employment setting, (3) scope of practice, and (4) personal factors. A random sample of 1200 licensed dental hygienists in 12 states was surveyed (100/state). Only dental hygienists working in one private practice setting for a minimum of five years completed the questionnaire; nonpracticing dental hygienists returned the questionnaire unanswered. A 69.9 percent response rate was established. Of those dental hygienists returning questionnaires, 14.3 percent were not practicing (N=108), and 85. 7 percent were currently practicing (N=755). Data were analyzed using univariate analyses (frequency distributions), bivariate analyses (Pearson's correlation coefficients [r]}, and multivariate analyses (factor analyses).

Analyses revealed six major factors identified by dental hygienists for remaining in a private practice setting for at least five years: (1) quality/safe work environment, (2} time management for quality dental hygiene services, (3) effective employer office policies/procedures and personnel management, (4) employer support of professional career, (5) supportive work environment, and (6) variety in scope of practice.

Factors explaining dental hygienists longevity in private practice are inversely related to those factors identified as reasons for hygienists leaving the profession in previous attrition and re-entry studies. Therefore, deliberate employment policies and practices can be effective employer strategies for increasing retention, longevity, and job satisfaction of dental hygienists in the private practice setting.


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