Improving Person-Centered Access to Dental Care: The Walk-In Dental Encounters in Non-Emergency Situations (WIDENESS)

Dent J (Basel). 2019 Dec 13;7(4):116. doi: 10.3390/dj7040116.


Background: We hypothesized that access to dental care could be improved by the conceptualization of a new type of consultation: The walk-in dental encounter for non-emergency situations (WIDENESS). The aim of this study was to assess patient perspectives regarding walk-in dental consultations, with a particular focus on non-emergency situations.

Methods: We followed a qualitative research approach using a semi-structured interview guide in a sample of random participants recruited from the dental department of the Toulouse University Hospital, France. We performed a thematic analysis of the interview transcripts. Data saturation was obtained after interviewing 11 participants.

Results: When asked about walk-in dental consultations, three main topics emerged: (1) Walk-in dental consultation in general is important for emergency situations, but WIDENESS did not correspond to any specific long-standing need from participants; (2) WIDENESS could be a way to improve access to oral care (facilitating access to care relative to time constraints, reduction of dentist-related anxiety, better overall follow-up for the care pathway, and the complementary nature of consultations with and without appointments); and (3) WIDENESS has some potential drawbacks-apprehension about long waiting times was mentioned by several participants.

Conclusions: Participants found the idea of WIDENESS promising, despite spontaneously mentioned reservations, which constitute major challenges to its implementation.

Keywords: access to oral care; dentistry; oral health needs; person-centered care; prevention; walk-in consultations.