Introduction: Dentistry is regarded as a profession and granted certain privileges, such as self-regulation. Associated with this status are stated and implied responsibilities which are widely debated. In recent years, dental professionalism seems to be on the decline. Evidence cited includes access-to-care issues and decreased public trust in dentists. In response, academia and professional organizations have developed curricula and statements intended to bolster professionalism. Meanwhile little is known about practicing dentists’ attitudes or participation in health-related civic matters. Objectives: This study seeks to examine the importance Loma Linda University (LLU) dental graduates place on public roles, their reported participation in public activities and the factors related to their responses. Methods: Four hundred and fifty-six LLU dental graduates were surveyed. Civic-mindedness was ascertained from respondents’ reported attitudes regarding community participation, political involvement and collective advocacy. Civic activity was determined from reported civic participation during the last three years. Additional responses were gathered on a number of health-related issues to assess the respondents’ level of social concern beyond the immediate dental care needs of their patients.

Findings from this study were compared with those of a similar study of physicians from the US.1 Results: Overall, three quarters of LLU respondents were considered civic-minded and 91% participated in civic activities. Attitudes regarding civic obligations were very similar to the US physician group. 1 The LLU dental graduates, however, reported a higher level of civic action than did the US physicians1 (91% vs. 65%). Regression analysis for civic-mindedness determined female gender and the specialties of pediatric dentistry and orthodontics were salient factors. Regression analysis for civic activity determined civic-mindedness, pediatric dentistry, and professional age greater than 20 years were related factors. The majority of LLU respondents, unlike US physicians, 1 deemed broader concerns not obviously tied to the health of their patients as important. The implications of these results as well as directions for future research were discussed.

LLU Discipline

Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics


Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics


School of Dentistry

First Advisor

Caruso, Joseph M

Second Advisor

Leggitt, V. Leroy

Third Advisor

Winslow, Gerald R.

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Degree Level


Year Degree Awarded


Date (Title Page)




Library of Congress/MESH Subject Headings

Education - Dental - California - Loma Linda; Dentists - California - Loma Linda; Attitude of Health Personnel; Community Health Services; Social Responsibility; Social Participation; Social Values

Subject - Local

Professional Self-Regulation; Dental Professionalism; Access-to-Care; Decreased Public Trust; Health-Related Civic Matters



Page Count


Digital Format


Digital Publisher

Loma Linda University Libraries

Usage Rights

This title appears here courtesy of the author, who has granted Loma Linda University a limited, non-exclusive right to make this publication available to the public. The author retains all other copyrights.


Loma Linda University Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Collection Website



Loma Linda University. Del E. Webb Memorial Library. University Archives