Perceptions of intimidation and bullying in dental schools: a multi-national study
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Objectives: To determine first year dental students' perceptions of intimidation by instructors and bullying by fellow students. Methods: Data were collected through a cross-sectional survey of first year dental students from seven dental schools representing five countries; one each from Romania, South Africa, Australia and the USA, and three from Malaysia. Self-report questionnaires were administered to participants at least six months after they had commenced their dental degree course during 2005–6. Results: Over a third (34.6%) reported that they had been intimidated or badly treated by their tutors/instructors and 17% reported that they had been bullied or badly treated by their fellow students in the recent past. There were statistically significant differences in reports of intimidation by instructors between the different dental schools. Intimidation by instructors was associated with a history of medication use for stress, anxiety and depression, and perceived stress in the past month. There were no statistically significant variations in reports of bullying by fellow students between different dental schools. Bullying by fellow students was associated with dieting to lose weight, self-reported general health and perceived stress. Conclusions: This multi-national study highlights that intimidation and bullying is prevalent within dental teaching and training environments. Future research is needed to explore their impact on students' well-being and academic progress as well as on patient care. Clinical Implications: Dentists are the best recruiters for the profession. If the dental school experience is a negative one it can have significant impact on the future of the profession.