Womens oral care education

April 21, 2011
Emerging data indicate the unique effects of oral cancer, periodontal disease, obesity, violence, and other factors on women's health.

Emerging data indicate the unique effects of oral cancer, periodontal disease, obesity, violence, and other factors on women's health. The American Dental Education Association (ADEA), with National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of Research on Women's Health sponsorship, will identify current knowledge gaps to fill so that the next generation of North American oral care providers better meets the unique health needs of women.

The ADEA study will be a catalyst for change in basic and clinical sciences curricula in North American dental schools, which ultimately is how new information and scientific discoveries get included in diagnostic and treatment regimes. Report findings will be published and a symposium, Women's Health in the Dental Curriculum: Implications for Future Research, will be presented at the 2012 ADEA Annual Session & Exhibition in Orlando, Fla., March 12-16.

"This study is especially relevant to emerging concepts of interprofessional education, collaborative research, and personalized therapeutics as envisioned for the future," said ADEA Executive Director Richard W. Valachovic, DMD, MPH, who serves as principal investigator.

The 2001 Institute of Medicine report Exploring the Biological Contributions to Human Health: Does Sex Matter? is the foundation for the generation of new knowledge from interdisciplinary approaches to research affecting health behaviors and outcomes of women and girls across a lifespan.

Three ADEA staff members will direct the research project: ADEA Executive Director Dr. Richard W. Valachovic as Principal Investigator, and Jeanne C. Sinkford, D.D.S., Ph.D., Associate Executive Director and Director, ADEA Center for Equity and Diversity, and Ms. Sue Sandmeyer, ADEA Associate Executive Director for Knowledge Management, are Co-Investigators.

A 1999 NIH report, Women's Health in the Dental School Curriculum, was based on a survey of U.S. and Canadian dental schools fielded by the American Association of Dental Schools (now ADEA) and followed a similar 1996 study of medical school curricula. That report identified areas of curriculum needing specific review and revision, including:

  • Reflecting a "life span" approach to women's health
  • Improving the instruction of psychosocial and socioeconomic issues, where women are disproportionately influenced
  • Increasing the knowledge of future oral health care providers in the social and legal responsibilities of their profession, especially as their responsibilities relate to women and the promotion of health and well-being ADEA members have been recruited to participate in the current research through a survey of U.S. dental schools regarding curricula content and objectives for women's health and related issues using templates of survey instruments from similar research in other health professions.