The aim of this study was to define the profile of unemployed dental hygienists who could be enticed to re-enter the workforce and the factors that could facilitate their re-entry into the dental field in Japan.
The questionnaire was mailed with a postage-paid return envelope to a sample of 3095 licensed dental hygienists. A 50.4% response rate (S = 1477) was observed.
The rate of working dental hygienists was 60.3% (n = 891), and of unemployed dental hygienists was 39.7% (n = 586). Of the latter, 31.9% (n = 187) stated intentions of returning to the workplace. The unemployed dental hygienists seeking employment were more often married and had more children, compared with working dental hygienists currently. This group also had significantly fewer total service years. Moreover, only 11.96% of them belonged to the Japan Dental Hygienists’ Association, and 41.3% of those attended training workshops. According to their response, they perceived their top three major barriers to re-entry as ‘lack sufficient dental hygiene skill’, ‘child rearing’ and ‘poor working atmosphere’. ‘Flexibility in the work schedule’ and ‘location’ were the most important factors for re-entry from their perspective.
There were not many dental hygienists hoping to return to the dental field. The findings suggested that strategies to encourage non-practicing dental hygienists to re-entry should be emphasized in the areas of a flexible working atmosphere, easy access to information on how to return to practice and guidance on how to maintain professionalism during inactivity.