by Metaxia Kritsidima

anxios-patient224x147The UK Health Department has addressed as an ‘important dimension of quality’, Patient Centred Care (PCC), which is based on patient experience and clinical effectiveness and is associated with the Dental Quality and Outcomes Framework. The term PCC was first introduced as a model in which the health professionals were to view each patient as a unique human being and is looked upon it as a model of delivering health care by providing care respectfully and responding to individual preferences, needs and values. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence has provided NICE guidelines to encourage the dental practice team to develop a good relationship with patients for them to maintain good oral health. PCC additionally involves providing treatment choices to patients and supporting them over decision making.

Dentists, when asked, state that they themselves practice Patient Centered Care. It seems that health professionals share an understanding of PCC as a basic sense of humanity and of ‘being a nice person’. They practice PCC within the limitations that daily practice brings, various professional or organizational constraints, lack of resources, skills and time, and difficulties in communication with certain groups of patients.

58% of adults in UK state that they avoid going to the dentist and this is partly attributed to their being ‘scared of the dentist’, as it has been reported in the Adult Health Survey. Anxiety towards the dental profession is very common and it also affects the working lives of the dental professionals since dealing with anxious people leads to increased tension that may potentially compromise performance.  Additionally, managing dental anxiety has been suggested as one of the most difficult tasks for dental practitioners.

But, what do the people with dental anxiety understand about the concept of PCC? Are their perceptions of oral health in relationship to their perceptions of PCC influenced by the level of the experienced anxiety?  What do they want an ideal dental consultation to look like?

These questions are unanswered. Dental anxiety as a concept in relation to how PCC may be practiced has not yet been systematically investigated.  It is also unclear how PCC may be practiced in a health system that is undergoing a reformation, aiming to meet demands for quality and availability, as it is in Greece. Increased privatization, (92.5% of the adults visit private clinics for oral health care provision) may increase demands for a more patient centred care, as the individuals are directly paying for their care.

Research on PCC so far has demonstrated that although there is a developing interest in PCC in dentistry there are still several questions un-answered. Through in depth one to one interviews we will be exploring the views and experiences of people that experience dental anxiety, and their understandings and needs in relation to patient-centered care (PCC) in Greece. This will allow us to collect evidence to produce findings that will enhance existing empirical and theoretical work in the area.

Dental practitioners need support to further their understanding and shape their practice of practicing in a PCC way. We aim to provide the evidence base needed to support good communication between the health professionals and their patients (whether dentally anxious or not).