A survey of demand for specialist restorative dental services

P J Nixon, R E Benson
British Dental Journal 2005 August 13, 199 (3): 161-3; discussion 153

OBJECTIVES: To determine the level of demand from general dental practitioners (GDPs) for specialist restorative dental services in the Yorkshire region. To investigate barriers and promoters to referral and GDPs' perceptions of restorative mono-specialists.

METHODS: A postal questionnaire was sent to 301 randomly selected GDPs (stratified for location) registered in the six Family Health Service Units in Yorkshire. Questionnaires were piloted prior to release; reminders were sent to non-respondents.

RESULTS: A response rate of 72% (n=217) was achieved, of these 195 questionnaires were useable (65% useable response rate). Results showed a large demand for restorative specialist services. Main promoters for National Health Service (NHS) referral were dentolegal issues (77% GDPs ranked this as a top three promoter) and for private referral increasing patient expectations (78%). The top barriers against referral were length of waiting lists for NHS patients (79% GDPs ranked this as a top three barrier) and high cost of treatment for private patients (88%). Excessive distance to specialist centre was the greatest barrier common to both NHS and private referrals. Fifty-eight per cent of GDPs would prefer to refer private patients to mono-specialists, compared with 5% who would prefer restorative specialists.

CONCLUSIONS: There is a strong demand for specialist restorative services which may increase in the future. Results indicate a high regard for mono-specialists. Overall demand is for a prompt, locally based, low cost referral service.


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