Older Adult Patients' Experience of Care in a Dental School Clinic

J Dent Educ. 2019 Sep;83(9):1039-1046. doi: 10.21815/JDE.019.104. Epub 2019 May 27.


The aim of this study was to assess older adults' experience of care in an academic dental practice to identify opportunities to improve the patient experience for older adults. A cross-sectional descriptive survey design with a sample of adults aged 65 and older was conducted using the Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems Clinician and Group (CG-CAHPS) 12-month survey 2.0, with supplemental survey item sets addressing cultural competence and health literacy. A total of 850 older adults were invited to participate in the survey in fall 2016, and a 43% response rate was achieved. Overall, participants reported a positive experience of care and high ratings for their dental providers. Significant differences were found based on age, education level, race, and health status. A significantly more favorable experience of care was reported by patients aged 75 and older, as well as adults without any college education. Non-white patients were less likely to highly rate their dental providers and gave lower ratings for experiencing trust with their dental providers than white patients. Patients reporting good/fair/poor health were also less likely than those reporting very good/excellent health to highly rate their dental providers, and they gave lower ratings for patient-provider communication. This study demonstrated the feasibility of using the CG-CAHPS survey to assess the patient experience for older adults in an academic dental practice. Results identified opportunities for improving the dental practice and underscored the importance of enhancing dental curricula in areas of cultural competence, health literacy, and diversity.

Keywords: cultural competence; dental care for aged; dental practice; dentist-patient communication; health care quality improvement; patient experience; patient-centered care; patients; person-centered care.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Cultural Competency*
  • Dental Care for Aged*
  • Dental Clinics*
  • Dentist-Patient Relations
  • Female
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Patient-Centered Care
  • Patients / psychology*
  • Quality of Health Care*
  • Schools, Dental*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Trust
  • United States