194287 Who are the dentists that employ dental hygienists?

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Nadereh Pourat, PhD , UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, Los Angeles, CA
Dental hygienists can increase dentists' productivity, yet national data indicate that a third of dentists do not employ these personnel. Information on characteristics of dentists who employ hygienists, as well as the reasons for not employing hygienists is needed.

A 2003 survey of California dentists in private practice and logistic regression was used to assess factors that were independently associated with hygienist employment. These factors included dentists' personal, practice, patient, population, productivity, and patient care characteristics. Characteristics of dentists not employing hygienist and reasons for not employing hygienists are also described.

Dentists who work full-time, employ more front office personnel, have more operatories, longer appointments, more income from private payers, and more elderly patients exhibited a higher likelihood of employing hygienists than dentists with the alternative characteristics. Foreign graduates and those with a lower percentage of white patients in their practice were less likely to employ hygienists.

Differences between dentists who do and do not employ hygienists reflected factors such as practice income and patient demand as reasons for this decision. Dentists' practice preferences appeared also to be important.

Employing hygienists increases capacity for providing care, yet not all dentists can or choose to do so. Understanding the characteristics of dentists who employ hygienists informs policy decisions to maintain or increase the capacity of the dental workforce.

Learning Objectives:
1. Discuss the correlates of employment of dental hygienists by dentists 2. Discuss the implications of employment of hygienists on capacity for providing dental care by dentists 3. Formulate policy options to address shortage of dental care providers.

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been conducting extensive research on this topic and do not have any conflict of interest.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.