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Indian J Dent Res. 2011 May-Jun;22(3):494. doi: 10.4103/0970-9290.87081.

Questionnaire vs clinical surveys: the right choice?--A cross-sectional comparative study.

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Public health Dentistry, Teerthankar Dental College and Research Center, Moradabad, Uttar Pradesh, India.



To investigate the practical value of using questionnaires (self perceived assessment) as compared with clinical examinations (normative assessment) and to evaluate the role of socioeconomic status and implications of the results in understanding the public perception of oral health.


This was a cross-sectional single-blind study. A purposive sample of 860 bank employees of Belgaum city, India, were asked to fill in a close-ended questionnaire inquiring about their socioeconomic status, dental, periodontal health levels and treatment needs. Clinical examinations, employing the WHO dentition status and Community Periodontal Index, were performed to determine normative status and needs. Perceived and normative assessments were compared for sensitivity, specificity, positive and negative predictive values.


The kappa values ranged from 0 (treatment needs) to 0.67 (for prosthesis). The degree of agreement with the following kappa values and sensitivity was seen in filled teeth (0.52, 60%), missing teeth (0.62, 83.8%), and prosthesis (0.67, 58.3%). However, the disagreement was seen with all other questions with average kappa value of 0.20.


Self-assessment questionnaires were of low value in evaluating dental, periodontal health status and treatment needs in the study subjects. Findings reflect a low level of awareness that may influence care-seeking behavior and socioeconomic status has a clear role to play in dental health perception.

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