Oral Health Professionals Knowledge, Attitudes and Practices Toward Patients with Depression

J Dent Hyg. 2020 Oct;94(5):6-13.


Purpose: Depression is a rising global health concern manifesting bidirectional relationships between chronic disease conditions such as type 2 diabetes and oral health. The purpose of this study was to explore the knowledge, attitudes, and practices of oral health care professionals towards individuals with depression.Methods: A 24-item, validated Knowledge Attitudes and Practices (KAP) survey was used for this descriptive, cross-sectional study. Non-probability, convenience and snowball sampling was used to recruit oral health care professionals (dentists, dental hygienists and dental assistants) to participate in an electronic survey. Descriptive statistics were used to analyze the data.Results: A total of 288 oral health care professionals (n=288) met the inclusion criteria. Age of the provider was positively correlated with reviewing or assisting in reviewing patient's depression history during routine dental visits (r=.16, p=.007), and referring or assisting in referring a patient to a mental health specialist (r=.30, p<.001). Number of years of practice was positively associated with referring or assisting in the referral of a patient to a mental health specialist (r=.29, p=.001). Oral health care professionals who indicated having had mental health during their education were more likely to indicate reviewing a history of depression with the patient (rho=.17, p=.004).Conclusion: Age, lack of practice experience and education may influence oral health care professionals' attitudes and practices when providing care for patients with depression. Mental health and its relationship to oral and systemic health may be an appropriate addition to dental program curricula. Oral health care providers should consider modifying routine practices to include the special needs of patients with depression.

Keywords: depression; depressive disorders; oral health care professionals; oral health promotion; oral systemic disease.

MeSH terms

  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Depression / therapy
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Oral Health*