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Emergency Dental Care

The Scottish Dental Clinical Effectiveness Programme (SDCEP) published guidance on Emergency Dental Care in November 2007. The motivation behind this was: the variation in availability and consistency of advice and care for patients with a dental emergency; inadequate out of hours facilities, variable provision for unregistered patients; and a lack of clarity about what actually constitutes a dental emergency.

Define professional behaviour outcomes

A group of stakeholders with particular expertise and experience in the area of emergency dental care were convened to identify the key behavioural outcomes arising from guidance recommendations. The key behavioural outcomes identified were:

  1. Practice procedure for emergency or unscheduled appointment requests
  2. Practice response to specific emergencies (toothache, bleeding following an extraction, dental trauma, facial swelling)
  3. Practice out-of-hours arrangements

Pre-publication semi-structured telephone interviews

Interviews took place approximately eight weeks prior to publication and dissemination of the SDCEP guidance. The aim of the interviews was to identify current practice when handling dental emergencies. The interview schedule followed a standardised structure designed to identify variation from the recommendations in the SDCEP guidance.

Results were mixed with considerable variation from the guidance recommendations reported.

Post-publication semi-structured telephone interviews

Follow up interviews took place six months after publication and dissemination of the guidance. The same pre-determined list of questions designed to identify variation from the recommendations in the guidance was used. Participants were also asked if they had received a copy of the SDCEP guidance, had they read it, found it useful or changed their practice as a result. Results after publication and dissemination of the guidance still highlighted considerable variation from the recommendations in the guidance and limited awareness of the guidance itself.

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