Date of Award

Spring 2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS) in Dental Hygiene


Dental Hygiene


Purpose: This study used a survey of program directors and program chairs to analyze relationships related to curriculum development for a dental hygiene-based dental therapist and the question of how external variables affect allied health workforce development and implementation.

Methods: A survey instrument was utilized to help identify the relationship between a dental hygiene-based dental therapist curriculum and the external influences of future needs of the dental hygiene profession and workforce; external influences; and institutional influences on curriculum design and implementation using Spearman’s rho testing. The open-ended question was studied through the application of grounded theory analysis. (N=340).

Results: Upon comparison of ten curricular concepts related to external influences across all three areas of influence, Business Management was a significantly related curriculum item, followed by Dental Hygiene Diagnosis; Foundational Knowledge; and Communications and Technology. As dental hygiene-based dental therapy curriculum is developed, these curricular relationships may be referenced in relation to how outside influences affect and facilitate workforce and program success. (n=133-138; 43%).

Conclusion: Curriculum should be developed based upon the actual assessment of workforce and patient need, rather than on an assumption of need. This analysis helped to develop curriculum guidelines for a dental hygiene-based dental therapist workforce model that is responsive to workforce needs, professional requirements, and institutional needs and influences. An accurate, need-based curriculum can be used to develop performance measures that can be measured, evaluated, and improved over time.