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Color-Blind Racial Attitudes in Practicing Dental Hygienists

Purpose: Individuals who subscribe to a color-blind racial ideology may not be aware of differences or differential treatment based on race which may be related to racial inequality in the delivery of oral health care. The purpose of this study was to determine color-blind racial attitudes in a convenience sample of clinical dental hygienists.Methods: A convenience sample of practicing dental hygienists recruited through social media via snowball sampling was invited to participate in this cross-sectional survey study. The Color-Blind Racial Attitudes Scale (CoBRAS), a valid and reliable measuring instrument, was used to determine unawareness of racial attitudes and stereotyping. Three subscales (Racial Privilege, Institutional Discrimination, and Blatant Racial Issues) were measured by the survey. Descriptive statistics and separate one-way between-subjects ANOVA were used to analyze the data.Results: Two-hundred and thirty-three (n = 233) dental hygienists in clinical practice completed the survey. ANOVA revealed statistically significant differences in overall CoBRAS scores when comparing age groups and ethnicities. Participants aged 18-29 had significantly lower overall CoBRAS scores compared to participants aged 60 and over (x = 49.41, x = 59.17, respectively; p = .019). African American participants scored significantly lower on overall CoBRAS scores compared only to those in the Other ethnicity category (x = 42.27, x = 62.08, respectively; p = .029).Conclusion: Participants possessed moderate levels of color-blindness, suggesting unawareness of racism and a need to understand the implications of racism as a means of promoting equity and improve oral health care delivery. Findings emphasize a need for more research examining color-blind ideology and how it affects oral health care delivery to diverse patient populations.

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