Factors influencing adherence to vacuum-formed retainer wear: a qualitative study

D. Al-Moghrabi, F.B. Colonio Salazar, A. Johal, P.S. Fleming

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: To explore factors influencing adherence to vacuum-formed retainer wear over a minimum period of four years. Design: A qualitative study based on a randomised controlled trial assessing the effectiveness of orthodontic retainers. Setting: Institute of Dentistry, Queen Mary University of London. Participants: Fifteen participants wearing vacuum-formed retainers for at least four years. Methods: One-to-one semi-structured interviews were undertaken on a criterion-based purposive sample of participants wearing vacuum-formed retainers. The interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed verbatim and analysed using Framework Methodology. Results: High self-reported levels of adherence in the early stages of retention were linked to a desire to maintain orthodontic outcomes and the negative perception of potential post-treatment changes. However, adherence typically reduced over time due to a combination of factors including the negative impact of retainers on quality of life and pragmatic issues related to retainer wear. Network support was found to be important in the short and long term, with instances of self-directed wear and negative beliefs concerning the importance of retainer wear and predisposition to post-treatment changes. Lack of follow-up appointments and immaturity of participants prompted independent decisions to cease retainer wear. Conclusions: Six key influencers of prolonged adherence with vacuum-formed retainer wear were identified. Future strategies to improve adherence should account for these while also being responsive to time elapsed since debond and patient age. © The Author(s) 2019.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)212-219
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Orthodontics
Issue number3
Early online date31 May 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2019


  • compliance
  • patient perspectives
  • patient–clinician relationship
  • qualitative methodology
  • vacuum-formed retainers


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