Antibiotic prophylaxis in dentistry: part II. A qualitative study of patient perspectives and understanding of the NICE guideline

Br Dent J. 2011 Jul 8;211(1):E2. doi: 10.1038/sj.bdj.2011.525.


Background: The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) recommendations in 2008 for antibiotic prophylaxis before dental treatment contradict previous practice. There is a potential difficulty in explaining the new guidance to patients who have long believed that they must receive antibiotics before their dental treatment.

Aim: This study investigated the patient-related barriers and facilitating factors in implementation of the NICE guidance.

Methods: In-depth interviews were conducted with nine patients concerning their views about barriers and factors that could influence the implementation of the NICE guidance on antibiotic prophylaxis before dental treatment. Data were analysed using framework analysis.

Results: For patients the rationale for the NICE guidance was unclear. They understood that at the population level the risk of infective endocarditis was less than the risk of adverse reaction to antibiotics. However, on an individual level they felt that the latter risk was negligible given their previous experience of antibiotics. They were aware that standards of care change over time but were concerned that this may be an example where a mistake had been made. Patients felt that the characteristics of the person advising them about the new guidance were important in whether or not they would accept them - they wished to be advised by a clinician that they knew and trusted, and who was perceived as having appropriate expertise.

Conclusions: Patients generally felt that they would be most reassured by information provided by a clinician who they felt they could trust and who was qualified to comment on the issue by respecting their autonomy. The implications of the findings for the development of patient information are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Access to Information
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / adverse effects
  • Antibiotic Prophylaxis*
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Dental Care for Chronically Ill*
  • Endocarditis, Bacterial / prevention & control
  • Fear
  • Female
  • Guideline Adherence
  • Health Literacy
  • Health Services Accessibility
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Personal Autonomy
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic*
  • Professional-Patient Relations
  • Risk Factors
  • Trust
  • United Kingdom


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents