Implementation of COVID-19 Infection Control Measures by German Dentists: A Qualitative Study to Identify Enablers and Barriers

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021 May 26;18(11):5710. doi: 10.3390/ijerph18115710.


Objectives: COVID-19 infection control measures have been recommended for dental practices worldwide. This qualitative study explored barriers and enablers for the implementation of these measures in German dental practices.

Methods: Semi-structured phone interviews were conducted in November/December 2020 (purposive/snowball sampling). The Theoretical Domains Framework (TDF) and the Capabilities, Opportunities and Motivations influencing Behaviors model (COM-B) were used to guide interviews. Mayring's content analysis was employed to analyze interviews.

Results: All dentists (28-71 years, 4/8 female/male) had implemented infection control measures. Measures most frequently not adopted were FFP2 masks, face shields (impractical), the rotation of teams (insufficient staffing) and the avoidance of aerosol-generating treatments. Dentists with personal COVID-19 experience or those seeing themselves as a role model were more eager to adopt measures. We identified 34 enablers and 20 barriers. Major barriers were the lack of knowledge, guidelines and recommendations as well as limited availability and high costs of equipment. Pressure by staff and patients to ensure infection control was an enabler.

Conclusions: Dentists are motivated to implement infection control measures, but lacking opportunities limited the adoption of certain measures. Policy makers and equipment manufacturers should address these points to increase the implementation of infection control measures against COVID-19 and potential future pandemics.

Keywords: COVID-19; SARS-CoV-2; acceptance; interviews; qualitative; theoretical domains framework.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19*
  • Dentists
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infection Control
  • Male
  • Pandemics
  • SARS-CoV-2

Grant support