Analysis of dentists' attitudes towards risks in oral radiology

B Svenson, B Söderfeldt, H G Gröndahl
Dento Maxillo Facial Radiology 1996, 25 (3): 151-6

OBJECTIVES: To develop a method of measuring dentists' attitudes towards radiation hazards and to describe their prevalence among Swedish general dental practitioners.

METHODS: A questionnaire was mailed to 2000 randomly selected dentists listed in the register of the Swedish Dental Society, with a response rate of 69.3%. An index for measurements of attitudes towards radiation hazards was constructed.

RESULTS: Those dentists who showed high concern at radiation hazards also restricted their use of X-ray examinations. Years in practice and attendance at extended (one-week) courses in oral radiology both had significant associations with risk attitude. Inexperienced dentists showed less concern for radiation hazards compared with those more experienced and were less scrupulous in their choice of radiographic procedures. Gender, working alone, in the public dental health services or in private practice had no significant association with attitude. Dentists who considered regulations laid down by the Swedish National Institute of Radiation Protection as wholly adequate had a high care attitude.

CONCLUSIONS: It is possible to study the relationship between attitudes and clinical behaviour by postal survey. Experience and continuing education affect dentists' attitudes towards risk and these attitudes in turn influence their clinical behaviour.

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