TitleFactors influencing the periodontal referral process.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2011
AuthorsPark, CH, Thomas, MV, Branscum, AJ, Harrison, E, Al-Sabbagh, M
JournalJ Periodontol
Date Published09/2011
KeywordsAdult, Aged, Certification, Clinical Competence, Communication, Cross-Sectional Studies, Decision Making, Dentist-Patient Relations, Female, General Practice, Dental, Group Practice, Dental, Humans, Interpersonal Relations, Interprofessional Relations, Male, Middle Aged, Periodontal Diseases, Periodontal Index, Periodontics, Private Practice, Professional Practice Location, Referral and Consultation, Southeastern United States, Specialty Boards, Time Factors

BACKGROUND: General dental practitioners (GPs) assess the periodontal status of patients and make decisions to treat patients or refer them to a periodontist. There is little information available regarding this process. The purpose of this study is to identify significant factors that GPs consider important in selecting a particular periodontist. The findings were compared and contrasted with responses of periodontists to gain perspectives from both groups involved in the referral process.

METHODS: Data from an online cross-sectional survey of GPs (n = 533) and periodontists (n = 533) who practice in the southeastern region of the United States (from the databases of the American Dental Association and American Academy of Periodontology member directories) were obtained.

RESULTS: The specialist's clinical skill was identified as the most important factor influencing periodontal referrals by GPs, whereas periodontists identified a previous positive experience between a GP and periodontist as the most important factor. In a descending order of importance, the top three rating averages (rated out of five) by GPs were clinical skill (4.84), a previous positive experience between a GP and periodontist (4.57), and communication (4.52). The top three factors of periodontists were a previous positive experience between a GP and periodontist (4.66), communication (4.40), and the likelihood of a good patient and periodontist rapport (4.29).

CONCLUSIONS: The periodontist's clinical skill was chosen by GPs as the primary factor influencing the referral decisions of GPs. Periodontists perceived a previous positive experience between the GP and periodontist as the most influential factor. Further studies are required to gain more insight into the referral process.

Alternate JournalJ. Periodontol.
PubMed ID21284554