Let’s Talk About Problem Behaviors in Your Patients


I came across an article in The Journal of the American Dental Association (JADA), written almost 30 years ago.  It summarized the findings of a study on “Dentists’ Perceptions of Problem Behaviors in Patients.”

Let me quote from the article:

Our sample of 376 dentists in general practice provided a number of useful insights into the problems that dentists experience with their patients.

For general problems of patient cooperation, the frequency of occurrence and annoyance to the dentist were related. High on the list in both categories were maintaining poor oral hygiene, missing or being late for appointments, and not paying bills. Not providing an accurate history ranked first in bother to the dentist but appears to occur infrequently.

When specific chair problems were considered, an inverse relationship was found between frequency of occurrence and bother to the dentist. Showing fear was the most frequent behavior but ranked lowest in bother. Grabbing the dentist’s hand ranked first in bother but last in frequency of occurrence.

Some annoying patient behaviors, such as those that devalue, criticize, or question the dentist’s performance, are attempts to cope with anxiety. Viewed in this fashion, the incidence of fear-related behaviors may be higher than actually perceived by dentists.

What are your thoughts?  Have we made progress in these past 30 years? What will dentistry be like 30 years from now?

I welcome your comments below.

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