The Collaboration Continues
In the April 2021 Editor’s Note, I reviewed the findings from a joint project between the American Dental Hygienists’ Association (ADHA) and the American Dental Association’s (ADA) Health Policy Institute.
In the April 2021 Editor’s Note, I reviewed the findings from a joint project between the American Dental Hygienists’ Association (ADHA) and the American Dental Association’s (ADA) Health Policy Institute. The aim of the project was to determine the impact of COVID-19 on oral healthcare providers via a survey that asked questions about COVID-19 infections among oral health professionals and the impact of the pandemic on employment conditions. At the time, the survey reported on results from early October 2020. Recently, the ADHA held a webinar to update dental hygienists on the latest findings. These data now include survey results from March 2021. The webinar participants included research analysts from the ADA, ADHA CEO Ann Battrell, RDH, MSDH, and Chair of the ADHA Return to Work Task Force, JoAnn Gurenlian, RDH, MS, PhD, AFAAOM.
DENTAL HYGIENISTS KNOW THAT CARING FOR THE PUBLIC IN A SAFE AND EFFECTIVE MANNER IS NOT ONLY POSSIBLE BUT PARAMOUNT.
Some interesting updates are:
- Symptoms of depression and anxiety continue to decrease among dental hygienists. As of March 1, 2021, 17.2% were experiencing symptoms of anxiety while 12.4% were experiencing symptoms of depression. The highest rates noted for symptoms of anxiety were in December (28.3%) and for depression in November (17.3%).
- As of March 1, 2021, 6.8% of the dental hygienists surveyed had been diagnosed with COVID-19 at some point. This is lower than other health professions and the United States population in general.
- As of March 5, 2021, 70.5% of the dental hygienists surveyed had at least one vaccine dose while 52.2% were fully vaccinated.
- Nineteen states now allow dental hygienists to administer the COVID-19 vaccine (Figure 1). To send a message directly to your governor in support of dental hygienists providing these vaccinations, visit: votervoice.net/ADHA/campaigns/79588/respond.
- For dental hygienists who were unemployed the first week of March 2021, 65% were not working for voluntary reasons. The primary reason given was not wanting to work until the pandemic is “under control.” For dental hygienists ages 35 to 44, the primary reason was “insufficient child care.”
Data continue to be collected and analyzed, so you can still take part in this important research. To participate in the study, visit: https://bit.ly/3hyoVtN.
It’s encouraging to see the work-related trends continuing to improve. Dental hygienists know that caring for the public in a safe and effective manner is not only possible but paramount. Patients are returning to practices, confident in our ability to provide such care. In fact, the ADA’s Health Policy Institute survey of dental practices for the week of April 12, 2021, shows that 58.1% of private dental practices are open with similar patient volumes seen prior to the global pandemic. Now, more than ever, we’ve got this!
Jill Rethman, RDH, BA
Editor in Chief
From Dimensions of Dental Hygiene. June 2021;19(6):6.