Providing humanistic care: dentists' experiences in deprived areas

J Dent Res. 2010 Sep;89(9):991-5. doi: 10.1177/0022034510370822. Epub 2010 Jun 4.


Communication barriers severely reduce the effectiveness of oral health care provision to people living in poverty. Our objective was to identify specific approaches and skills developed by dentists for more effective treatment of people living in poverty and addressing their needs. We conducted qualitative research based on in-depth interviews with eight dentists practicing in disadvantaged communities of Montreal, Canada. Analyses consisted of interview debriefing, transcript coding, and data interpretation. Results revealed that, over years of practice, these dentists had developed a five-faceted socio-humanistic approach that involved: (1) understanding patients' social context; (2) taking time and showing empathy; (3) avoiding moralistic attitudes; (4) overcoming social distances; and (5) favoring direct contact with patients. This approach is original, and, even though participants found it successful, it should be evaluated in terms of its impact for access to services and patients' experience of care.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Communication Barriers
  • Cultural Competency
  • Dental Care / psychology*
  • Dentist-Patient Relations*
  • Dentists / psychology
  • Empathy
  • Humanism*
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Poverty Areas*
  • Psychological Distance
  • Qualitative Research
  • Quebec