Publication Date

Fall 2011

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Health Science


Kathleen M. Roe


attitudes, barriers to care, dental curriculum, prejudicial beliefs, reflection, self-awareness

Subject Areas

Public health; Dentistry; Education


This study investigated dental students' prejudicial beliefs towards underserved patient populations as an upstream constituent of provider attitudinal barriers to care. The objectives were to explore the nature of prejudicial beliefs, to assess the value of critical reflection as essential preparation for patient care, and to identify insights that would inform the preclinical curriculum that, ultimately, reduce oral health disparity.

An original reflection assignment was introduced into the preclinical curriculum of first year dental students to journal about the legitimacy of their prejudicial beliefs. Results indicated dental students identified a range of prejudicial beliefs and, through self-direction, experienced awareness and transformation of their beliefs. Participants agreed that reflection had value. Insights were identified that could enhance the preclinical curriculum. This contributes to the evidence base on pedagogical strategies historically focused on post-experiential reflection. Themes explored include concepts defining the nature of prejudicial beliefs that could guide and inform professional practice.