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Optometry and Dentistry Education: The Need to Include Transfer and Positioning Training for Clients with Physical Disabilities

1 May 2002


Background and purpose. Current education regarding the care of patients with physical disabilities is limited in the dental and optometric fields. Often times, these patients require assistance in transferring out of their wheelchairs onto the specialized examination chairs encountered in these healthcare settings. The purpose of this study was to determine the need to incorporate proper patient positioning and transferring techniques into dental and optometric curricula.

Methods. Two-hundred-thirty-two dentists, hygienists, and optometrists practicing in Oregon were surveyed regarding their attitudes and perceived need for including these components into their respective curricula.

Results. Most respondents reported receiving limited education and having a decreased comfort level in treating this patient population. Although uncomfortable, most were willing to accept these clients into their practice and felt there was an increased need for further education.

Conclusion and discussion. This study affirmed that dentists, hygienists, and optometrists do not receive adequate education in transferring and positioning of patients with physical disabilities. Furthermore, those professionals with more extensive education were more willing to treat these patients. This study supported the existing literature and hypothesis that increased education leads to a higher willingness and comfort level in treating individuals with disabilities. Thus, there is a need to incorporate these techniques into the curricula of these professions.


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