Patient aggression toward dental students

Kimberly A. Rhoades, Richard E. Heyman, J. Mark Eddy, Sammie Jo Fat, Nicole C. Haydt, Jacqueline E. Glazman, Zachary F. Dispirito, Allison N. Rascon, Charlotte M. Guerrera, Mark S. Wolff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aggression from patients is one of the risks faced by healthcare workers during a typical work week. This risk begins during training. Although rates of patient aggression have been estimated for nursing students and medical residents, studies of aggression toward dental students have not been conducted. To begin to address this knowledge gap, we surveyed 160 D.D.S. student dentists in their third- or fourth years who were attending a large urban college of dentistry during the 2018–2019 academic year. Each class had approximately 375 students, leading to a response rate of 21%. Approximately 28% of students reported experiencing at least 1 instance of physical aggression, 86% reported experiencing at least 1 instance of verbal aggression, and 36% reported experiencing at least 1 instance of reputational aggression. There were no differences in rates of experienced aggression by age or gender, but Hispanic or Latinx students were more likely to experience physical and reputational aggression than non-Hispanic White or Asian students. We discuss implications for dental education, including modifications to training clinic procedures and curriculum additions or modifications that may help prepare students to prevent and address patient aggression within the dental clinic environment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)586-592
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of dental education
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2020


  • aggression
  • dental education
  • dental students
  • prevalence
  • workplace violence
  • Students, Nursing
  • Students, Dental
  • Aggression
  • Humans
  • Education, Dental
  • Universities

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • General Dentistry


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