Patients' attitudes towards screening for diabetes and other medical conditions in the dental setting
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AIM: To determine the attitudes of patients attending routine appointments at primary care dental clinics and general dental practices towards the possibility of chair-side screening for medical conditions, including diabetes, in the dental setting. METHODS: A brief, anonymous, self-administered questionnaire distributed to adult patients (≥18 years) attending 2 primary care dental clinics and 16 general dental practices in South-West England. RESULTS: One hundred and ninety-seven completed questionnaires were received from patients at primary care dental clinics and 429 from general dental practice patients. Overall, 87% of respondents thought that it was important or very important that dentists screened patients for medical conditions such as diabetes; 79% were very willing to let a dental team member carry out screening. The majority indicated willingness to be screened for various medical conditions during a visit to the dentist, with significantly higher proportions of respondents in the primary care clinics indicating willingness (hypertension: 83% vs 74%; heart disease: 77% vs 66%; diabetes 82% vs 72% [all p <0.02]). Nearly two thirds of primary care clinic respondents and over half of general practice patients indicated that they would be willing to discuss test results with the dental team. Overall, 61% had never knowingly been screened or tested for diabetes; 20% reported that they had been tested within the previous 12 months. CONCLUSION: The majority of respondents supported the concept of medical screening in a dental setting and were willing both to have screening tests and discuss their results with the dental team. Patient acceptance is paramount for successful implementation of such screening programmes.
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