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UK VDP Cohort Study

Dentist carrying out dental treatment on a patient


Dental Vocational Training (DVT) is a national one-year postgraduate training programme. The aims of DVT are “to provide recently qualified graduate dentists the skills necessary to undertake unsupervised general dental practice by enhancing clinical and administrative competence, and to promote high ethical standards and quality of care for patients.”.

On 1st August 2003, Scotland became the only UK country to introduce formal assessment as a mandatory part of the DVT year. Legislation requiring ‘satisfactory’ completion was enacted in 2004.

The move towards mandatory assessment and satisfactory completion represented a major change for DVT, and was the subject of considerable debate. SDPBRN helped inform this debate by conducting a longitudinal, comprehensive, comparative outcomes evaluation of DVT in areas of the UK with and without a mandatory system of assessment.

Study Summary (2003-2009)

The overall aims were to:

  • evaluate VDP outcomes from the DVT programme;
  • investigate if outcomes differ in areas of the UK with and without formal assessment.

Five Postgraduate Dental Deaneries participated:

  • Scotland – Mandatory assessment;
  • Wales; Northern Ireland; Northern Deanery; and North Western Deanery – No mandatory assessment.

A stakeholder consultation was carried out to identify appropriate outcomes. The outcomes identified included clinical and non-clinical aspects of dental practice, continued professional development, and professional identity.

VDPs completed a self-report questionnaire at the beginning and end of their VDP training. A psychological framework utilising two theories of behaviour – Social Cognitive Theory and the Theory of Planned Behaviour underpinned the questionnaire.

At the end of every training year each deanery received an individual report giving their results in isolation and in comparison to the other participating deaneries.

This was a three-year study with a predicted end date of July 2006 and all deaneries received a final report at year 3. However, because the results informed and benefited curriculum development, the end date was extended until July 2009.

Current status

Study complete.

Related Publications

Bonetti D., Young L., Rennie J., Clarkson J. (2008) ‘Evaluating dental vocational training: how does Scotland compare to the rest of the UK?’ British Dental Journal 204, 195-202 (PDF)

A number of summary reports are available:

Clarkson J., Young L. UK National Cohort Study Evaluating Dental Vocational Training Stakeholder Consultation Report: September 2003 (PDF)