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The impact of rural-exposure strategies on the intention of dental students and dental graduates to practice in rural areas: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Authors Suphanchaimat R, Cetthakrikul N, Dalliston A, Putthasri W

Received 7 July 2016

Accepted for publication 19 August 2016

Published 27 October 2016 Volume 2016:7 Pages 623—633


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Amy Norman

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr Anwarul Azim Majumder

Rapeepong Suphanchaimat,1 Nisachol Cetthakrikul,1 Alexander Dalliston,2 Weerasak Putthasri1

1International Health Policy Program, Ministry of Public Health, Nonthaburi, Thailand; 2Master’s Student, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, London, UK

Background and objectives: The objective of this study was to assess the impact of strategies on the intention of dental students/graduates to practice in rural areas. The strategies included the recruitment of dental students from rural backgrounds and clinical rotations in rural areas during the training of dental students.
Materials and methods:
The study undertook a systematic review and utilized meta-analysis to assess these strategies. International literature published between 2000 and 2015 was retrieved from three main search engines: Medline, Embase, and Scopus. The selected articles were scanned to extract the main content. The impact of the strategies was quantitatively assessed by meta-analysis, using the random-effect model. The pooled effect was reported in terms of odds ratios (ORs) with 95% confidence intervals. Sensitivity and subgroup analyses were performed. Publication bias was assessed by the Funnel plot and Egger’s test.
Results: Seven of the initially selected 897 articles were included for the full review. The majority of the selected articles had been published in developed countries. The meta-analysis results revealed that the pooled OR of rural exposure on the intention to practice in rural areas was approximately 4.1, statistically significant. Subgroup analysis showed that clinical rotations in rural areas tended to have a slightly greater influence on rural dental practice than recruiting students from rural backgrounds (OR 4.3 versus 4.2). There was weaker evidence of publication bias, which was derived from small-study effects.
Conclusion: Enrolling students with rural backgrounds and imposing compulsory clinical rotation in rural areas during their study appeared to be effective strategies in tackling the shortage and maldistribution of dentists in rural areas.

rural retention, rural background, dental students, dental graduates, systematic review, meta-analysis

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