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Quality assurance and dental hygiene care in British Columbia Bilawka, Ebony

Abstract

Quality assurance and quality management are current topics in the field of health care. Quality assurance is necessary to ensure consumers of health care receive ethical, effective, efficient, competent care. Many methodologies drive quality assurance with no one method clearly more beneficial than the next. An extensive review of the literature demonstrated that quality assurance, as a concept, has been evolving to adapt to the ever-changing needs of the health care field. However, information is lacking in the effectiveness, awareness, and suitability of quality assurance mechanisms in dental hygiene. This cross sectional descriptive study was conducted to explore the perceptions that British Columbia dental hygienists have about quality assurance, their perceptions on the use of the College of Dental Hygienists of British Columbia practice standards as a quality assurance tool, and their perceptions about the degree to which they are able to practice according to these standards. Study participants were also asked about any potential barriers that prevent them from practicing according to the standards. A total of 336 self-administered questionnaires were mailed to dental hygienists currently registered as a "full registrant" and practicing in British Columbia. Of the 126 questionnaires that were returned (37% response rate), 108 met the inclusion criteria for the study. The findings show that the majority of dental hygienists who responded to this questionnaire perceive that they are practicing in accordance with the standards all the time (always) or almost all the time (usually). This study also sought to explore the relationship between geographical location and the dental hygienist's perceptions on adherence to the standards. This study showed that there was no appreciable link between these variables. It was postulated that the year a dental hygienist graduated may affect how he/she perceived his/her practice of dental hygiene in accordance with the standards. The results of the cross-tabulation using the Spearman's Rank Correlation demonstrated a small, statistically, significant negative association between these two variables. This means that the longer a dental hygienist has been practicing, the less he/she perceives that he/she is practicing according to the standards. This study has revealed some introductory information on how dental hygienists in the province of British Columbia view quality assurance and the use of practice standards as a quality assurance tool.

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