Doctor of Philosophy
John J. Kregel
This study explored how currently licensed, active dental hygiene practitioners in the Commonwealth of \ﬁrginia, retrieve, validate and process new knowledge in the discipline which provides a basis for clinical decisions on selection of dental hygiene interventions for patients. The research design was a non experimental, correlational design using mail survey methodology. A self-developed questionnaire was mailed to 500 practicing dental hygienists in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The survey contained questions on demographics of the respondent, current methods of retrieving new information in the discipline, and preferences for information retrieval. The completed surveys that were returned yielded a 52.7% response rate. and provided descriptive data for analysis concerning the variables of interest in the research questions.
The analyses conducted in this study focused on the sample characteristics, including gender, ethnicity, years since graduation, membership in the professional organization, actual information-seeking methods used, access and frequency of use of the Internet, preferences for information retrieval, and critical assessment of the new information in the discipline.
In general, the ﬁndings indicate three areas of relationship between graduation era (before and after 1990) and online continuing professional education, Internet retrieval of new evidence on which to base decisions for clinical patient care, and contacting a dental or dental hygiene educator for new information in the discipline. Traditional resources for receiving new knowledge in the discipline were favored, with the greatest number in professional journals received at home, followed by face-to-face continuing education lectures. Online continuing education led the preferred Internet or computerized retrieval sources. Almost two-thirds of the respondents indicated they evaluate new knowledge retrieved from the Internet, and the same number indicated agreement that they question the source and content of nontraditional information resources prior to incorporation and translation of the new knowledge into clinical decisions for patient care.
The author concludes with additional ﬁndings, continuing professional education opportunities for practicing clinicians and implications for critical thinking skills and information retrieval in the dental hygiene education curriculum.
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