Perceptions and attitudes toward performing risk assessment for periodontal disease: A focus group exploration

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1 Scopus citations


Background: Currently, many risk assessment tools are available for clinicians to assess a patient's periodontal disease risk. Numerous studies demonstrate the potential of these tools to promote preventive management and reduce morbidity due to periodontal disease. Despite these promising results, solo and small group dental practices, where most people receive care, have not adopted risk assessment tools widely, primarily due to lack of studies in these settings. The objective of this study was to explore the knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs of dental providers in these settings toward risk-based care through focus groups. Methods: We conducted six focus group sessions with 52 dentists and dental hygienists practicing in solo and small group practices in Pittsburgh, PA and New York City (NYC), NY. An experienced moderator and a note-taker conducted the six sessions, each including 8-10 participants and lasting approximately 90 min. All sessions were audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim. Two researchers coded the focus group transcripts. Using a thematic analysis approach, they reviewed the coding results to identify important themes and selected representative excerpts that best described each theme. Results: Providers strongly believed identifying risk factors could predict periodontal disease and use this information to change their patients' behavior. A successful risk assessment tool could assist them in educating and changing their patient's behaviors to adopt a healthy lifestyle, thus enabling them to play a major role in their patients' overall health. However, to achieve this goal, it is essential to educate all dental providers and not just dentists on performing risk assessment and translating the results into actionable recommendations for patients. According to study participants, the research community has focused more on translating research findings into a risk assessment tool, and less on how clinicians would use these tools during patient encounters and if it affects a patients' risk or outcome. Conclusions: Dental practitioners were open to performing risk assessment as routine care and playing a bigger role in their patients' overall health. Recommendations to overcome major barriers included educating dental providers at all levels, conducting more research about their adoption and use in real-world settings and developing appropriate reimbursement models.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number90
JournalBMC Oral Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 21 2018


  • Biomedical informatics
  • Dental informatics
  • Electronic dental records
  • Electronic health records
  • Periodontal disease
  • Risk assessment
  • Risk assessment tool
  • Risk factors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dentistry(all)

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