Trends in work effort among private general dental practitioners

A J Spencer, D S Brennan, F S Szuster
International Dental Journal 1994, 44 (3): 223-9
Trends in the distribution and volume of dental services provide an empirical base upon which hypotheses on future service provision can be tested. The aim of this study was to examine changes in the distribution and volume of service provided in private general dental practice, and compare these with an existing conceptual model. A weighted, stratified random sample of Australian dentists was surveyed in 1983 (730 respondents, response rate 73 per cent) and 1988 (855 respondents, response rate 75 per cent). The data were weighted to provide population estimates for private general dental practitioners in 1983 and 1988. Service-mix data were converted to relative value units, a common scale based on work effort, and annual estimates of this work effort were calculated. Work effort was divided into low, medium and high level interventions. Medium level interventions comprised the greatest volume of work effort, followed closely by low level interventions, with high level interventions having the smallest volume. The pattern of work effort was in contrast to the conceptual model of service distribution, with low level interventions higher and high level interventions lower than expected. While there was a significant increase in work effort among high level interventions, there was no increase in work effort among low level interventions and no decrease in work effort among medium level interventions over the five year period 1983-88 as expected in the conceptual model for changing service provision.

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