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Breaking the burnout cycle

Through the “Breaking the burnout cycle: keeping dentists and patients safe” campaign Dental Protection is making a range of policy recommendations that, if taken seriously, would help to improve the mental health and wellbeing of dentists and mitigate the risks of burnout in the profession.

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97% of dentists experience challenging interactions with patients

01 September 2015

Challenging interactions were found to impact on 88% of respondents’ practice working environment with 94% believing it causes stress and anxiety amongst the dental team, 73% feel it causes a fear of complaints and claims, and 67% reported it leads to delays in appointments.

The majority of respondents (85%) told us that they believe patient expectations are higher than they were five years ago and 50% believe unmet patient expectations to be the most common reason for challenging encounters. Other top factors behind challenging interactions included the patient’s aggressive temperament (43%), a breakdown in communication between the dentist and patient (37%) and the patient’s anxiety about dental treatment (35%).

Dental Protection Director, Kevin Lewis said:

"We understand that patients may be anxious when visiting the dentist and these emotions can be overwhelming, however, no dentist should have to be on the receiving end of aggressive behaviour as a result.

“Dealing with challenging patients understandably impacts on the dental team’s stress levels, morale and fear of litigation, which can in turn affect patient care.”

To ease the situation, dentists advocated communication training (44%), clear information about eligibility for care (42%), and a marketing campaign to boost patient awareness of the role of dentists (40%).

Kevin Lewis continued:

“It is important that dentists are well equipped to deal with such challenges. It is heartening that one in three felt well trained to do so, but 12% believed training was limited and left them unprepared, and 13% responded that training was inadequate.

“Challenging interactions are an inevitable feature of healthcare, however we believe practices should establish robust policies to address this issue. Our team of 60 dentolegal advisers are also on hand to offer support and advice, as well as resources and tailored workshops to help members deal with difficult interactions and improve communication skills.”

Notes to Editors

  1. Dental Protection conducted a survey of 497 UK dentist members on the issue of ‘challenging interactions with patients.’ The survey ran from 17 July - 31 July 2015.
  2. Dental Protection offers members the opportunity to participate in a half-day interactive interactive workshop specifically to deal with difficult interactions
  3. For further information please contact Matt Hepburn, Press Office Assistant at MPS on +44(0) 207 399 1439 or email [email protected]

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