Objectives: In this study, the authors examined the dentist's view of the patient's experience and concordance with the patient's rating of satisfaction.
Methods: Practitioners from 197 practices in The National Dental Practice-Based Research Network recruited consecutively seen patients who had defective restorations that were replaced or repaired. At the end of the dental visit, the treating dentist and 5,315 patients completed and returned a survey that asked about the patient's satisfaction.
Results: Most dentists viewed their patients as having been satisfied with the treatment experience (n = 4,719 [89 percent]) and as having perceived them as friendly (n = 5,136 [97 percent]). Dentists had less strong feelings about whether patients had a preference for the restorative material (n = 2,271 [43 percent]) or an interest in obtaining information about the procedure (n = 1,757 [33 percent]). Overall, patients were satisfied, and most of the time dentists correctly predicted this outcome. Among patients who were less than satisfied, there was a substantial subset of cases in which dentists were not aware of this dissatisfaction.
Conclusion: For improved patient-centered care, dentists should assess patients' desires, expectations and perceptions of the dental care experience and then manage or correct the expectations and perceptions as needed.
Practical implications: By taking a patient-centered approach, dentists should seek to understand how patients evaluate and rate the services provided, thereby enabling them to focus on what each patient values most.
Keywords: Access to care; behavioral sciences; community dentistry; consumer satisfaction; dental care utilization; dentist-patient relations; patient affect; patient relations; professional-family relations; public opinion.