Does time matter? WhatsApp vs electronic mail for dental education. A pilot study

Paulina Poblete (Lead / Corresponding author), Eugenio Nieto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)
262 Downloads (Pure)


Introduction: WhatsApp is an instant multimedia messaging and social media software which can be used for multiple purposes such as data, text, photographs and document transfer. Due to its versatility and multiple utilities, WhatsApp has been used within the educational setting in medicine and dentistry, proving a positive attitude of students towards its use.

Aim: To compare the reception time and the response time of WhatsApp with the traditional electronic email within the dental educational environment.

Method: A two-group comparative study was designed. Four multiple choice questions were sent via WhatsApp (group WA) and via electronic mail (group eM) to dental students. Data collected focused on the reception time and response time of students. Specifications of WhatsApp were used to collect data whilst an email tracker was used for the eM group. Excel software and Stata/IC version 15.1 software were used for data analysis.

Results: Seventy-four dental students from the University x (anonymised for reviewing purposes) dental school agreed to take part in this experience. However, 59 provided their responses (80%). Forty-four were females, and 15 were males. Twenty-seven participants were randomly allocated to the WA group and 32 to the eM group. The statistical analysis revealed a significant difference between groups: Reception time, P:.0286 value and response time, P:.0448 value indicating that the WA group was significantly faster in terms of reception and response time.

Conclusion: This pilot study suggests that WhatsApp is more efficient in terms of reception and response time than electronic emails.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)121-125
Number of pages5
JournalEuropean Journal of Dental Education
Issue number1
Early online date20 Oct 2019
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2020


  • WhatsApp
  • comparative study
  • dental education
  • instant message

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • General Dentistry


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