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J Endod. 2011 Sep;37(9):1191-6. doi: 10.1016/j.joen.2011.06.029.

Survey of general dentists to identify characteristics associated with increased referrals to endodontists.

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University of Colorado School of Dental Medicine, Aurora, Colorado, USA.



Few studies have surveyed dentists in general practice (GPs) to assess their perceptions and understand the factors associated with referrals to endodontists. The purpose of the study was to understand the referral behavior of GPs by examining the effects of endodontist characteristics and professional behavior and the role of GP demographics and perceptions in determining referrals to endodontists.


Researchers conducted a cross-sectional study that included a quantitative online survey of 983 GPs in the United States from November 4-18, 2009.


Ninety-four percent of the GPs had positive perceptions of endodontists, but they only referred 46% of patients who required root canal treatment to endodontists. The perception that endodontists are partners in patient care and endodontic services are worth the cost was strongly related to the likelihood of referring (P < .05). GPs rated timely follow-up of reports and images (96%; n = 935), referring patients back for restorative treatment (94%; n = 916), and patient scheduling accommodation (92%; n = 900) as effective ways to build partnerships. Gender and years in practice moderated the relationships between several predictors (eg, communication, patient care, value of treatment, and expertise) and the likelihood of referring.


There are concrete actions endodontists can take and segments of the GP population that can be targeted to successfully address the issue of increasing referrals, but this is only the first step in addressing the complex relationships involved in referral behavior.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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