Australian Dental Hygienist Labour Force

The aim of the study is to describe the practice activity of the dental hygienist labour force in Australia and identify emerging trends comparing data from previous labour force collections.

In the last quarter of 2000 a comprehensive mail out was conducted of the Australian dental hygienist labour force in the seven States and Territories where hygienists are permitted to practise. Questionnaires requested information on socio-demographic characteristics, hours worked, type and area of practice. A response rate of 73.7%% was obtained.

Results indicated a 73.6% increase in the number of practising hygienists since 1996. Practising rate per 100,000 population varied greatly between the states, South Aust (SA) had the highest rate (7.3), while New South Wales had the lowest (0.9). Of the 394 practising hygienists, 27.6% were in SA (44.9% in 1996), followed by Western Australia (20.9%). There were changes in age distribution: 40.6% were aged between 30-39 years (53.8% in 1996), 29.7% were aged 20 to 29 (21.6% in 1996). Of the practising hygienists 58.2% reported working part time (less than 35 hours per week). For all states/territories the mean number of hours worked per week was over 30 hours, except SA, (25.3). 49.1% worked in only one practice location (57.0% in 1996). 71.3 % worked in private general practice, and 3.2% work in public sector.

There are considerable differences in the practice status of hygienists between the States and Territories. Both age and geographic distributions have become less skewed in the 4 years of the data collection. There is very little hygiene practice activity in the public sector and in rural areas.

Teusner DN*, Roberts-Thomson KF, Szuster FSP

Presented at the Dental Hygienists’ Association of Australia 15th International Symposium on Dental Hygiene, 2-5 August 2001, Sydney, Australia

Note: * indicates presenter

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