The prevalence of learning disabilities (LD) in higher education has drawn significant attention at the undergraduate level. College freshmen reporting learning disabilities have increased significantly in the past twenty years. Although anecdotal evidence suggests an increase in the number of dental students with learning disabilities, nothing has been published regarding how dental education is affected by this general trend. The purpose of this study was to obtain information from U.S. dental school administrators regarding the incidence and prevalence of learning disabilities in dental education. We hypothesized that there has been an increase in diagnosed cases of learning disabilities in dental education. Following a pilot study to identify individuals responsible for working with students with learning disabilities in U.S. dental schools (response rate 91 percent, n = 49), a eighteen-item survey instrument was distributed to specific contact individuals (response rate 81 percent, n = 44). Mean cumulative incidence of diagnosed cases of learning disabilities was 0.3 percent; mean prevalence of identified diagnosed cases of LD 0.7 percent. Pearson analysis revealed a statistically significant weak positive correlation between mean prevalence and year, suggesting an increase in identified diagnosed cases of LD in U.S. dental schools over the past seven years (r = 0.24, p = 0.002). We conclude that the presence of learning disabilities in dental education is silent, pervasive, and deserves increased attention.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||7|
|Journal||Journal of dental education|
|State||Published - Oct 2002|
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