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Internal Journal of Dental Hygiene


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Objective: Subscribing to colour-blind racial attitudes may contribute to inequities in the delivery of oral care and affect treatment of diverse patients. The purpose of this study was to survey all entry-level dental hygiene students in one state to determine colour-blind racial attitudes.

Methods: After IRB approval, a convenience sample of 219 dental hygiene students in all entry-level programmes in Virginia were invited to participate in this cross-sectional study. The Colour-Blind Racial Attitudes Scale (CoBRAS), an effective, validated measuring instrument, was used to quantify unawareness of contemporary racist ideals. Three subscales (Racial Privilege, Institutional Discrimination and Blatant Racial Issues) were also measured by the survey. Descriptive statistics, separate one-way between-subjects ANOVA and independent samples t-tests were used to analyse the data.

Results: One-hundred and sixty (n = 160) dental hygiene students completed the survey. Independent samples t-tests revealed statistically significant differences when comparing year in programme and programme type. Participants in their second year of dental hygiene education had significantly lower overall CoBRAS scores compared to those in their first year of education (M = 50.76, M = 59.13, respectively; p = 0.004). Participants enrolled in a baccalaureate dental hygiene (B.S.) programme had significantly lower overall CoBRAS scores compared to those enrolled in an associate (A.S.) programme (M = 50.53, M = 59.54, respectively; p = 0.002).

Conclusions: Participants possessed moderate levels of colour-blindness, suggesting a need for more awareness and training early in dental hygiene education to increase delivery of culturally competent oral healthcare.


© 2023 The Authors.

This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) License, which permits use and distribution in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non-commercial and no modifications or adaptations are made.

Data Availability

Article states: The data that support the findings of this study are available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request.

Original Publication Citation

Ludwig, E., & Suedbeck, J. (2023). Colour-blind racial attitudes in entry-level dental hygiene students in Virginia. International Journal of Dental Hygiene. Advance online publication.


0000-0002-3275-059X (Ludwig), 0000-0001-7681-8042 (Suedbeck)