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Color-Blind Racial Beliefs Among Dental Students and Faculty.

J Dent Educ; 81(9): 1098-1107, 2017 Sep.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-28864792
Providing culturally competent patient care requires an awareness of racial and cultural norms as well as a recognition of racism. Yet, there is a paucity of research devoted to this problem. In dental education, increased attention has focused on eliminating oral health care disparities due to ethnicity and race. Further investigation to determine the relationship between color-blind attitudes (failing to recognize the impact of race and racism on social justice) and dental educators' cultural competence is needed. The aim of this study was to determine dental faculty and student baseline color-blind racial attitudes scale scores, using the color-blind racial attitudes scale (CoBRAS). This 20-item instrument that measures three subscales of color-blind racial attitudes (Unawareness of Racial Privilege, Institutional Discrimination, and Blatant Racial Issues) was administered to student and faculty groups at one U.S. dental school. Out of a total 245 students in three class years, 235 responded to all items, for a response rate of 96%; out of a total 77 faculty members invited to participate, 71 responded to all items, for a response rate of 92%. Underrepresented minority (URM) faculty scored significantly higher on the Institutional Discrimination subscale and lower on Unawareness of Racial Privilege compared to non-URM students. Males scored significantly higher on Institutional Discrimination and Blatant Racial Issues compared to females. Compared to white students, URM students scored lower on all three subscales. The findings were consistent with previous studies indicating that female and URM students were more sensitive to racism compared to male and majority students. The findings that white faculty had higher awareness of racial privilege than white students and that URM faculty were less aware of institutional discrimination than URM students provided new information. These findings suggest that dental faculty members need professional development opportunities that promote becoming color-conscious and understanding privilege and biases, that model instruction on discussing race and racism, and that extend beyond a brief workshop.