Aim: To investigate the factors that might influence the provision of general health promotion through seven different health interventions by dental teams in general dental practice.
Method: A mixed-method was used comprising cross-sectional qualitative research using semi-structured interviews of a purposive sample of 10 practice principals, and a cross sectional survey of a practice principal from every dental practice in South Yorkshire, using a self-complete questionnaire.
Results: Two core categories emerged from the qualitative data: seeing health or disease and practitioners' views of the structure of dental practice. The former refers to the participants' general outlook and cut across many dimensions constituting the structure of dental practice. Health-orientated dentists were more likely to be involved in prevention and were more open-minded to expanding the dental team's role into general health promotion. However participants perceived that barriers existed to involvement such as time and financial factors, current workload and lack of personal skills. The response rate of useable questionnaires in the cross sectional survey was 84%. Reported levels of involvement in general health promotion were low. Most frequently reported barriers were 'insufficient funding' and 'poor use of time'. 'Poor use of time' and 'lack of training/knowledge' were reported less frequently for professionals complementary to dentistry (PCDs) than dentists (p<0.05). Most dentists agreed that PCDs could be trained to deliver health interventions and would be happy for PCDs to do so in their practice if reported barriers were removed.
Conclusions: Although dental teams' involvement in general health promotion is low, there is willingness to increase involvement, particularly among health-orientated dentists. Some reported barriers to involvement might be removed by impending changes to the GDS in England. Other important factors include a lack of education and workforce shortages of dentists and PCDs. Respondents indicated a high regard for PCDs and there was broad agreement that they were suitable to be involved in this work.