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Community Dent Health. 1992 Dec;9 Suppl 1:1-220.

Marketing dentistry: a pilot study in Dudley.

Abstract

This study was an attempt to persuade non-users or irregular users of dental services to change their behaviour and visit the dentist more regularly. The task was divided into two main parts. One was a promotion campaign undertaken in the Borough of Dudley in the West Midlands and the other a professional development programme for the dentists practising in the same area. The professional development campaign was designed to make the practitioners aware of the barriers to dental care which are perceived by patients. It was undertaken through a series of workshops on various aspects of practice development and promotion to which the staff of all the dental practices in Dudley were invited. Thirty-nine out of a total of forty-one accepted the invitation and attended some or all of the programme. In addition to the workshops members of the research team visited each of the participating practices regularly to discuss aspects of the programme and to record progress. The practitioners had varied attitudes to marketing and varied learning styles, and therefore they had different expectations of the nature and purpose of professional development. The majority attended solely to learn about the promotion campaign. There were also varying perceptions of patient recruitment and retention. None saw this as a serious problem. However, even before the new National Health Service contract for general dental practitioners there was the growing realisation that in the future there would be competition between practices and that this could be a reason for considering recruitment and the retention of patients more carefully. This was considered by many of the dentists, but not all, to be a problem of patient behaviour, linked with a degree of fatalism, and that nothing much could be done about it. There was a reluctance to change and the fear of the risks involved led a number of the general dental practitioners to identify and emphasise the difficulties in making new developments rather than their benefits. Only one quarter of the practices made any changes and they tended to prefer quick solutions rather than basic development. The experience gained in this part of the study indicated that in the future professional development should be considered in terms of the dentist's perception of the costs and the benefits; direct costs, opportunity costs, and the prospect of effecting change.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS).

PMID:
1483206
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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