Is advertising ethical for dentists? An insight into the Indian scenario
Rajani A Dable1, MA Prasanth2, Shailendra B Singh1, Girish S Nazirkar1
1Department of Prosthodontics, Sau Mathurabai Bhausaheb Thorat (SMBT) Dental College and Hospital, Sangamner, Maharashtra, India; 2Department of Pedodontics, Vyas Dental College and Hospital, Jodhpur, Rajasthan, India
Background: The question of whether Indian dentists should advertise their services is an important issue with significant ethical and professional implications. Individual dentists may feel the need to advertise in order to establish or grow a dental practice, but what effect does this have on the standing of the profession as a whole? As health care professionals are bound by a code of ethics, should dentists be allowed to advertise?
Purpose: The purpose of this study is to examine the attitudes of Indian dentists to the issue of advertising. It also aims to explore whether advertising could have positive benefits (to increase the community's awareness of dental health care, encourage better quality dental services, decrease unemployment in the industry, and help consumers choose a dentist), or, on the contrary, whether advertising could have a negative impact by undermining the reputation of the industry, in particular the definition of dentistry as a medical profession.
Methods: Of 1500 eligible participants, 423 dentists (28.2%) participated in the study. The questionnaire, comprising 14 questions, was provided to the respondents. The data was collected and analyzed by applying the “Chi-squared test” of association and the “Z test” of difference between two proportions at 5% and 1% levels of significance (ie, P = 0.05 and P = 0.01).
Results: A majority of 56.02% of the respondents were in favor of dentists advertising their services. The majority of dentists in favor of advertising were in the youngest age group (22–30 years, 75.86%). The older age groups were more likely to agree and comply with the government ban on advertising by dentists.
Conclusion: While Indian culture and law does not regard advertising as ethical, in recent years there has been a change in the attitudes of dental professionals to the issue of advertising.
Keywords: marketing, advertising, health care, ethics, law, dentistry, attitudes
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