Objectives: This study aimed to assess dentists' attitudes toward providing dental care for older adults with disabilities in Singapore and the factors influencing their willingness to provide care.
Background: Dentists face a rapidly ageing patient demographic. Practitioner unwillingness to circumvent the attending challenges of care provision prevents older adults from accessing the dental care necessary for better oral and systemic health. Previous studies have reported on dentists' attitudes toward caring for older adults with disabilities; however, these are mostly limited to dependent older adults and exclude frail, community-dwelling older persons.
Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted in 2020 using a self-administered questionnaire. Quantitative data analysis was presented in the form of descriptive statistics, followed by bivariate analyses.
Results: There were 193 respondents, a response rate of under 9%. Dentists were less willing, confident and involved in the care of older adults with disabilities as the individual's severity of impairments increased. Less than half of respondents were willing to treat individuals with severe disabilities in cooperation (23.3%), swallowing (30.6%), mobility (33.7%) and communication (45.1%). Dentists with training in geriatric dentistry were more willing to provide care. However, younger dentists, general dental practitioners, private practitioners and public sector dentists had specific restraining and driving forces, which further modulated their willingness to provide care.
Conclusions: The current areas of training needs among Singapore dentists are in severe impairments of swallowing, communication, cooperation and mobility. Further geriatric dentistry training may effectively increase dentists' willingness to provide care; however, additional specific targeted interventions are also needed.
Keywords: attitudes; dentists; geriatric dentistry; persons with disability.
© 2023 The Authors. Gerodontology published by Gerodontology Association and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.