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Understanding dental professionals’ roles in oral health education

Barnes, Emma ORCID: 2021. Understanding dental professionals’ roles in oral health education. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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Re-orientation of dentistry towards prevention is leading to a greater emphasis on attempts to encourage patient self-care through Oral Health Education (OHE) in general dental practice. Little is known about how dental professionals define prevention and how it is applied in practice or on how patients’ expectations influence their understanding of the OHE interaction. The main research question addressed in this thesis is “How is oral health education understood and delivered within a preventive approach?”. Qualitative data were gathered from semi-structured interviews with 30 dental professionals (17 dentists, seven dental nurses, and six dental therapists) and 87 patients. Prior to the Covid-19 restrictions, case studies of two NHS general dental practices generated 14 dental professional interviews (six dentists, three dental therapists, and six dental nurses), and 20 patient telephone interviews (10 per practice). Following the Covid-19 restrictions, telephone interviews were carried out with a further 11 dentists and three dental therapists. Sixty-seven patients were recruited for telephone interview via HealthWise Wales. The data were analysed using Thematic Analysis and mapped onto the Capability-Opportunity-Motivation-Behaviour (COM-B) and Theoretical Domains Framework (TDF) using qualitative content analysis. Findings included a favourable view of the perceived importance and patient benefit of OHE by both patients and dental professionals, and patient trust in the expertise of dental professionals. Key practice-related and dental professional-patient communication barriers to OHE provision were identified such as time-pressured appointments owing to insufficient remuneration and perceptions of patient disinterest or of dental professionals’ communication of blame or judgement. Professional responses to OHE outcomes and motivation, and barriers and facilitators to behaviour change (e.g., new knowledge, retaining dentition) were also identified. The findings highlight the interactional nature of OHE and illustrate how the encounter is constrained or facilitated by contextual factors operating at different levels, both for the dental professional and the patient.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Date Type: Completion
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 24 March 2022
Last Modified: 10 Nov 2022 10:54

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