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Factors Associated with Pre-Dental Students’ Intention and Willingness to Serve in the Underserved Community and Vulnerable Population


A potential solution to the problem of how to increase access to dental care for the underserved and vulnerable populations is to establish an early pipeline of underrepresented and minority college students for a career in dentistry. This study aims to explore factors associated with such pre-dental students' future intentions to serve. A cross-sectional design was utilized with 144 participants completing the questionnaire with four sections, including participants' demographics, experience in access to dental care, psychosocial factors, and intention to serve the underserved and vulnerable populations. Descriptive statistics, chi-squared test, and logistic regression were used for statistical analyses. A positive attitude (OR = 12.03) and higher confidence towards addressing access to dental care issues (OR = 10.43) were found to be the strongest factor for higher intention to serve the underserved and vulnerable populations. Higher knowledge on the prevalence of dental caries among children (OR = 3.18) and participants who experienced difficulty in getting a dental appointment, or finding an available dentist when needed (OR = 3.43), were also associated with higher intention. Identifying key factors associated with higher intention to serve the underserved and vulnerable populations as a future dentist may facilitate workforce recruitment in the Health Profession Shortage Areas (HPSAs).

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