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ASSESSMENT OF ETHICS COMPETENCES IN DENTISTRY STUDENTS

I. Macpherson1, M.V. Roqué1, I. Segarra2

1Universitat Internacional de Catalunya (SPAIN)
2Universitat de Barcelona (SPAIN)
The evaluation of the ethics competences of university students has been one of the great objectives in the design of curricula, especially in the health sciences field. It is frequent to evaluate these competences using statistical approaches, including the development of multiple-choice test questions that can easily be transformed into scales, depending on the meaning of the indicators. In dentistry there are such essays but their scope is very limited: They are often confined to distant situations and framed in a system of preconceived responses. We propose an alternative evaluation method based on reflection of several clinical cases which incorporate moral components and answer by the students through an open narrative description to encourage them to express what he or she really thinks and decides upon the case. We have grouped the answers according to different ethics categories following a descriptive criterion and compared the different groups with the scores obtained after an objective questions test about the studied ethics cases. This approach allows us to observe the relationship between the students' moral reflection and their translation in isolated academic terms. The outcomes include the reflections and decisions of first-year Dentistry students for three years (260 students) regarding practical cases with an ethical component, i.e. a professional error concealed by fear of reprisals, a professional confrontation for malpractice and an illicit business proposal for economic reasons. The results were compared with the scores obtained in a test of 100 true/false questions about the main moral aspects surrounding the dental profession. This combined assessment allowed to evaluate the effectiveness of the pedagogical methods used.