A national survey of the public's views on quality in dental care.

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Background There is a lack of evidence and poor understanding of quality measurement and improvement in dentistry. The aim of this study was to undertake a nationally representative survey of the public in England to explore their views on the meaning of quality in dentistry.Methods A cross sectional survey of the adult population (18 years and over) of England was undertaken. A sample size of 500 was set to provide a precision to plus or minus 5% after allowing for item non-response. A quota sampling approach was used, with predetermined quotas set for sex, age, working status and tenure to ensure the sample was nationally representative. Question selection and design were informed by the literature and a series of interviews with the public. Simple content analysis was used to identify themes in the responses to open questions. Dental service use, gender, age, ethnicity and social class were recorded. Frequency distributions were computed and outputs were cross-tabulated with various population sub-group categories.Results Five hundred and thirteen people were interviewed. Approximately 20% of patients reported that their care was suboptimal; a third thought it was poor value for money and 20% did not trust their dentist. Good interpersonal communication, politeness and being put at ease were the most important factors that elicited positive responses. Negative factors were cost of care and waiting times. In making an assessment of quality, access (40% of all responses), technical quality of care (35%), professionalism (30%), hygiene/cleanliness (30%), staff attitude (27%), pain-free treatment (23%), value for money (22%), and staff putting patients at ease (21%) all emerged as important factors.Conclusions Quality in dentistry is multi-dimensional in nature, and includes different elements and emphases to other areas of healthcare. The results will inform the development of a measure of quality in dentistry.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBritish Dental Journal
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 14 Aug 2015


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