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Community Dent Oral Epidemiol. 2005 Apr;33(2):131-40.

Dentist-assistant communication style: perceived gender differences in The Netherlands and Northern Ireland.

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Department of Social Dentistry and Dental Health Education, Academic Centre for Dentistry Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.



To assess communication style differences with the (female) dental assistant, as perceived by male and female dentists.


Data were collected from 216 Dutch (male: 99; female: 117) and 261 Northern Irish (male: 135; female: 126) dentists (overall response rate: 60%). Respondents filled in a self-report questionnaire (one follow-up mailing), with 22 items on staff communication style. Using principal component analysis, four distinguishable factors could be extracted: businesslike leadership style (seven items, Cronbach's alpha = 0.87), friendly leadership style (seven items, alpha = 0.87), professional interacting style (four items, alpha = 0.83) and gender interacting style (four items, alpha = 0.83).


manova indicated a main effect for gender [F(8,946) = 10.905, P < 0.001] and for country [F(4,474) =4.197, P = 0.002] on the communication style scales. Male dentists, compared with female colleagues, showed higher mean scores on businesslike leadership style and gender interacting style, whereas female dentists showed higher mean scores on friendly leadership style and professional interacting style. Dutch dentists showed higher mean scores on friendly leadership style and professional interacting style than their Northern Irish colleagues. No interaction effect between gender and country was found. Dentist's age and length of assistant's employment (in years) partly explained differences in means.


Male and female dentists perceive their communication with the assistant differently; male dentists tend to be influenced by the gender differences, female dentists by striving for friendliness. Some country differences were found. Increasing influx of young female dentists underlines the relevance of this topic in dental education and for future research.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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