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Int Dent J. 2002 Apr;52(2):71-4.

Dentists' perception of their treatment practices versus documented evidence.

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Department of Oral Public Health, Institute of Dentistry, University of Helsinki, Finland.



To compare the quality of real-life treatment practices to dentists' perceptions of treatment rendered.


One administrative unit of the Finnish public oral health service.


The original oral health records of a randomly selected sample of young adults who received treatment during 1994-1996 provided data on actual clinical examinations (n=208), radiographs (n=312), and root canal treatment courses (n=148) carried out by 50 dentists. Dentists' perceptions of the treatment rendered were obtained through a structured questionnaire completed during their working hours in 1996.


Criteria for assessing the quality of treatment practices were based on Finnish health legislation, authoritative instructions, and consensus reports.


Based on responses, 77% of the dentists followed the prevailing instructions on oral health record keeping (82%, if partial agreement included). Most dentists (88% fully agreed, 95% at least partly) perceived that their knowledge gained through continuing education was being applied in practice; no one answered no. A gap was found between dentists' perception of the treatment rendered and everyday treatment practices as recorded on patient documents.


Overall, dentists' perception of the quality of their treatment practices exceeded that found in patient documents. This gap deserves consideration while planning research, education, or quality-improvement projects that relate to dentists' opinions.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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