Collaboration and empowerment in educational activities during dental hygiene care

Joan Gluch-Scranton, University of Pennsylvania


Providing information to patients about oral health promotion and disease prevention is considered the hallmark of dental hygiene care. However, limited published information is available in the dental or dental hygiene literature to document and describe the educational activities within the social interaction during dental hygiene care. Research questions in this study focus on the meaning and interpretation of educational activities from both the dental hygienist's and patients' perspectives. One dental hygiene researcher completed participant observation for a nine month time period in one hospital based dental practice in a large metropolitan city. Audiotapes, transcripts, interviews with staff members and patients and field notes from ninety nine patient visits with ninety six patients form the major data sources. In this study, education was viewed as a joint production between the dental hygienist and her patients. Both the dental hygienist and her patients collaborated in an equal manner in order to initiate and intensify the educational activities produced during the dental hygiene visit. Educational activities were identified as occurring at five time points during the visit, and further analysis of these five time points provided the organizing framework for exploring the hygienists' and patients' levels of participation and collaboration in oral health education. A further analysis of the educational activities illustrated the process of empowerment that was created during the dental hygiene visit. In addition, the impact of the hazardous microbial environment in dental care is considered, as the dental hygienist modifies her use of glasses, mask, and gloves and participates in social talk with patients in order to reduce the sense of a dangerous environment. By clarifying the patient's perceptive and illustrating the collaboration and empowerment during the educational activities in dental hygiene care, this study provokes clinicians and scholars to reconsider the social interaction in the dental hygienist-patient relationship as qualitatively and quantitatively different than previous literature in medical discourse analysis.

Subject Area

Health education|Dental care

Recommended Citation

Gluch-Scranton, Joan, "Collaboration and empowerment in educational activities during dental hygiene care" (1992). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI9227668.