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Dentist-patient communication: what do patients and dentists remember following a consultation? Implications for patient compliance

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)543 - 549
Number of pages7
JournalPatient Preference and Adherence
Published17 Jun 2013

King's Authors


Background: There is a lack of information about the extent to which patients recall key facts of dental consultations. Forgetting health advice undermines adherence with such instructions and is a potential problem. This study assessed the quantity and type of information recalled in a dental consultation, dentist-patient agreement over the contents of the consultation, and the relationship of such recall with patient satisfaction.

Methods: Using a cross-sectional design, questionnaire data were obtained from patients recruited through a letter and presenting for a routine dental consultation. General issues discussed, specific information about oral health given, dentist-performed procedures, and agreed future actions were reported independently in writing, by patients and also by the treating dentist immediately postconsultation. Additionally, patients completed a dental visit satisfaction questionnaire.

Results: Responses (n = 26, 55% response rate) were content-analyzed, and data on the number and type of information that was recalled were obtained. Interrater reliability was established. Inferential testing showed differences in dentist-patient recall, dentist-patient agreement, and the association between patient recall and satisfaction. Dentists recalled more information than patients (P = 0.001). Dentists further reported giving more dental health education (P = 0.006) and discussing more future actions (P = 0.002) than patients actually remembered. Technical (eg, crowns/bridges) rather than psychosocial (eg, pain/embarrassment) issues were reported more often (P = 0.001) by both dentists and patients. Dentist-patient agreement over issues discussed and procedures performed was higher (kappa = 0.210-0.310) than dental health education agreement and agreed future actions (kappa = 0.060-0.110). There was no relationship between patient recall and patient satisfaction with the consultation (P = 0.240).

Conclusion: Patients do not recall as much advice and agreed actions about future dental care as dentists believe they have discussed. These results have implications for patient adherence with oral health instructions.

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