Dental professionalism and influencing factors: patients’ perception
Salwa Mahmoud Taibah
Department of Orthodontics, Faculty of Dentistry, King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Background: Professionalism was recognized as a fundamental competency of medical/dental practice at the beginning of the twenty-first century. Organizations and experts published several definitions of professionalism, but research on patients’ perception of professionalism has been limited. To address this gap in literature, this study explored dental patients’ perception of dental professionalism, and then compared their perception with that of dental professionals.
Methods: Of the 800 questionnaires that were distributed to dental patients in public and private clinics and hospitals, 504 were returned and were used in the analysis. A factor analysis was used to generate themes and sub-themes. Independent sample t-tests were performed to compare two independent groups and the ANOVA tests to compare means in more than two independent groups.
Results: A factor analysis revealed four factors: excellence and communication skills; humanism, commitment, and service mindedness; competence in practice; and dentists’ duties and management skills. Adherence to sterilization and infection control rules and procedures; personal hygiene and clean professional attire; good communication skills; diagnostic and clinical judgment and provision of the most efficient dental treatment; and ethical decisions and ethical care were ranked as the first five most important elements of dental professionalism from patients’ perspective. Several demographic factors showed significant differences in perception.
Conclusion: Patients’ and dentists’ perception of dental professionalism and professional behavior vary in certain aspects. These differences must be addressed to ensure excellence of dental service. Dental professionals must also be aware of the personal factors that affect a patient’s perception of professionalism.
Keywords: dental professionalism, dentist behavior, patients’ perception
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