Factors influencing referral for specialist endodontic treatment amongst a group of Dutch general practitioners

M H Ree, M F Timmerman, P R Wesselink
International Endodontic Journal 2003, 36 (2): 129-34

AIM: To analyse the need for endodontic referral amongst a group of Dutch general practitioners and to examine the current referral patterns and factors influencing the decision to refer.

METHODOLOGY: A questionnaire was designed to investigate the perceived need for endodontic referral, the factors that influenced the decision process, the specialist to whom the case was referred and the frequency of referring. The questionnaires were distributed amongst 500 dentists attending a scientific meeting of the Netherlands Society for Endodontology (NVvE) and to 83 members of 10 study groups responding to a request in a newsletter. These groups were chosen to represent those dentists who possessed a similar degree of general dental knowledge and were acquainted with the requirements that endodontic treatment should meet.

RESULTS: The response rate was 41%. Of the respondents, 93% felt the need to refer cases to specialists. The majority of dentists preferred to refer to an endodontist rather than an oral surgeon. The major factors considered to be important or very important (37 and 54%, respectively) for endodontic referral were the presence of an obstruction in the canal, followed by the presence of a perforation or resorption (43 and 34%, respectively) and persistent signs and/or symptoms (39 and 32%, respectively). NVvE members referred significantly less to oral surgeons than nonmembers.

CONCLUSIONS: Amongst a group of Dutch general practitioners there is a substantial perceived need for referring endodontic cases to specialists.

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