Background and overview: The authors set out to identify factors associated with implementation by U.S. dentists of four practices first recommended in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Guidelines for Infection Control in Dental Health-Care Settings-2003.
Methods: In 2008, the authors surveyed a stratified random sample of 6,825 U.S. dentists. The response rate was 49 percent. The authors gathered data regarding dentists' demographic and practice characteristics, attitudes toward infection control, sources of instruction regarding the guidelines and knowledge about the need to use sterile water for surgical procedures. Then they assessed the impact of those factors on the implementation of four recommendations: having an infection control coordinator, maintaining dental unit water quality, documenting percutaneous injuries and using safer medical devices, such as safer syringes and scalpels. The authors conducted bivariate analyses and proportional odds modeling.
Results: Responding dentists in 34 percent of practices had implemented none or one of the four recommendations, 40 percent had implemented two of the recommendations and 26 percent had implemented three or four of the recommendations. The likelihood of implementation was higher among dentists who acknowledged the importance of infection control, had practiced dentistry for less than 30 years, had received more continuing dental education credits in infection control, correctly identified more surgical procedures that require the use of sterile water, worked in larger practices and had at least three sources of instruction regarding the guidelines. Dentists with practices in the South Atlantic, Middle Atlantic or East South Central U.S. Census divisions were less likely to have complied.
Conclusions: Implementation of the four recommendations varied among U.S. dentists. Strategies targeted at raising awareness of the importance of infection control, increasing continuing education requirements and developing multiple modes of instruction may increase implementation of current and future Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.