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Gerodontology. 2005 Sep;22(3):123-9.

Barriers to provision of dental care in long-term care facilities: the confrontation with ageing and death.

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Department of Prosthodontics, Biomaterials and Geriatric Dentistry, University of Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany.



The aim of the study was to reveal barriers to providing dental care for residents in long-term care (LTC) facilities.


Participants were selected randomly from the dentist register in Berlin and Saxony, Germany. The sample consisted of 60 self-employed and 60 employed dentists, a further 60 dentists worked in their own dental practice but also part-time in an LTC facility. In semi-structured interviews a questionnaire with 36 statements concerning working conditions, administration and cost, insecurity concerning treatment decisions as well as confrontation with ageing and death was employed. Subsequently, the study participants were asked to rank the four dimensions concerning their impact on the decision against providing dental care in an LTC facility.


The random sample was representative in age and gender for the dental register in Berlin and Saxony. Fifty-six per cent of the participants (63% of the men and 51% of the women; 52% of the self-employed, 60% of the employed and 56% of the consultant dentists) indicated unfavourable working conditions as biggest obstacle in providing dental care in an LTC-facility. Thirty-two per cent of participants rated administration and cost, 7% the insecurity in treatment decisions as major hindrance. Only 5% of the participants rated the confrontation with age and death as substantial barrier. There were no age and gender differences. Dentists in Berlin seemed more concerned about administration and cost of a consultancy activity and less secure in their therapy decisions than the colleagues from Saxony (p < 0.001). Dentists who work partly in LTC facilities were the least concerned about the confrontation with ageing and death (not significant), employed dentist showed the least secure in their treatment decisions (p > 0.001).


It can be concluded that the awareness of infra-structural and financial aspects in providing dental care in LTC facilities should be raised with health politicians and that these aspects should be considered when inaugurating or re-structuring the consultancy services to LTC facilities. Further it would be desirable to establish more postgraduate training programmes to increase clinical and ethical competence in the area of gerodontology.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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