Patients' Perceptions of Dehumanization of Patients in Dental School Settings: Implications for Clinic Management and Curriculum Planning
Journal of dental education | 3 Oct 2015
S Raja, R Shah, J Hamad, M Van Kanegan, A Kupershmidt and M Kruthoff
Although the importance of empathy, rapport, and anxiety/pain awareness in dentist-patient relations has been well documented, these factors continue to be an issue with patients in many dental school clinics. The aim of this study was to develop an in-depth understanding of how patients at an urban, university-affiliated medical center and its dental school’s clinic experienced oral health care and to generate ideas for improving the dental school’s clinical curriculum and management of the clinic. Although patient satisfaction surveys are common, in-depth patient narratives are an underutilized resource for improving dental education. In-depth qualitative interviews were conducted with 20 uninsured or underinsured dental patients at these sites, and the results were analyzed using content analysis. Major phenomena that participants discussed were the importance of empathy and good rapport with their oral health providers and provider awareness of dental pain and anxiety. Many patients also discussed feeling dehumanized during dental visits. Based on their positive and negative experiences, the participants made suggestions for how oral health professionals can successfully engage patients in treatment.
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