COMPARATIVE STUDY
JOURNAL ARTICLE

Patients' attitudes toward screening for medical conditions in a dental setting

Barbara L Greenberg, Mel L Kantor, Shuying S Jiang, Michael Glick
Journal of Public Health Dentistry 2012, 72 (1): 28-35
22316147

OBJECTIVES: Previous studies demonstrated the efficacy of chairside medical screening by dentists to identify patients who are at increased risk for developing cardiovascular-associated events and the favorable attitude of dentists toward chairside medical screening. This study assessed patient attitudes toward chairside medical screening in a dental setting.

METHODS: A self-administered questionnaire of eight five-point response scale questions was given to a convenience sample of adult patients attending an inner-city dental school clinic and two private practice settings. Wilcoxon-Mann-Whitney tests and t-tests were used to compare responses between study groups. Friedman nonparametric analysis of variance was used to compare response items within each question.

RESULTS: Regardless of setting, the majority of respondents was willing to have a dentist conduct screening for heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, human immunodeficiency virus infection, and hepatitis infection (55-90 percent); discuss results immediately (79 percent and 89 percent); provide oral fluids, finger-stick blood, blood pressure measurements, and height and weight (60-94 percent); and pay up to $20 (50-67 percent). Respondents reported that their opinion of the dentist would improve regarding the dentist's professionalism, knowledge, competence, and compassion (48-77 percent). The fact that the test was not done by a physician was ranked as the least important potential barrier. While all respondents expressed a favorable attitude toward chairside screening, the mean score was significantly lower among clinic patients across most questions/items. The priority rankings within an item were similar for both groups.

CONCLUSIONS: Acceptance by patients of chairside medical screening in a dental setting is a critical element for successful implementation of this strategy.

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