Online Program

A survey of dentists' attitudes and knowledge of treating scleroderma patients: Discovery of an access to care issue

Monday, November 4, 2013

David Leader, DMD, MPH, Department of Diagnosis and Health Promotion, Tufts University School of Dental Medicine, Boston, MA
Athena Papas, D.M.D., Ph.D., Rubenstein Oral Medicine Clinic, Tufts University School of Detnal Medicine, Boston, MA
The prevalence of Scleroderma or systemic sclerosis (SSc) is 18.4 per 100,000. SSc causes dry mouth, a major risk factor for tooth decay, and shrinks the mouth opening complicating care. A previous survey determined 28% of SSc patients have difficulty finding dentists prepared to treat them and 63% do not recommend their current dentist to other SSc patients. We conducted an internet-based survey of all 4465 members of the Massachusetts Dental Society (MDS) to determine their knowledge and attitudes of treating SSc patients. Data was analyzed using SPSS and Qualtrics research suite. Dentists aged 30 and older were somewhat evenly represented with few dentists under thirty participating. Responses were primarily from Eastern Massachusetts (80%). Most dentists believed they have an ethical responsibility to treat patients who have scleroderma (93%). Over half of dentists believed that in not knowing about SSc they might harm a patient (51%). If contacted by a patient who has scleroderma, 50% of dentists would gather information on the disease or the patient's condition. Dentists who felt prepared (71%) were more likely to answer knowledge questions correctly than those who felt unprepared (p=0.004, Mann-Whitney U test). Knowledge questions related to diagnosis and classification of scleroderma. Low yield (6.0%) was due to an undiagnosed technical problem with the Qualtrics website. Dentists would like to learn more about scleroderma (96%). The results indicate the importance and potential efficacy of creating a health communication effort targeting oral health providers to improve patient satisfaction and access to care.

Learning Areas:

Administer health education strategies, interventions and programs
Advocacy for health and health education
Chronic disease management and prevention
Other professions or practice related to public health
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Program planning

Learning Objectives:
Analyze how dentists’ attitudes and knowledge of scleroderma reduces scleroderma patients’ access to oral health care. Identify strategies to improve dentists’ knowledge of scleroderma.

Keyword(s): Access to Care, Oral Health Needs

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a student in the Public Health and Professional Degree Program, Tufts University School of Medicine. I will receive my MPH in May 2013. This poster represents my applied learning experience required for my MPH. I am an Associate Clinical Professor in the Department of Diagnosis and Health Promotion, Tufts University School of Dental Medicine. I am a member of the Medical Advisory Board of the New England Chapter of the Scleroderma Foundation.
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.