Objective: To explore the experiences of young people and their parents regarding the impact on school performance due to time away from school for orthodontic appointments and to explore their views about a possible extension to the current service.
Design: A qualitative study using semi-structured interviews.
Setting: UK district hospitals.
Participants: A total of 11 pairs of interviewees: young people undergoing fixed appliances and their parents.
Methods: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with young people and their parents. The interviews were audio recorded and transcribed verbatim. A framework approach was used to analyse the data.
Results: A thematic analysis of the data identified five main themes which were as follows: (1) expectations of the treatment process and appointments; (2) impact of school absences and treatment; (3) appointments; (4) implications for young people, parents and others; and (5) satisfaction with treatment. These themes were then further subdivided and analysed.
Conclusion: Young people and their parents felt that attending appointments for orthodontic treatment had minimal impact on a young person's school performance. However, some young people did engage in coping mechanisms in order to ensure this was the case. Young people and their parents advised they were satisfied with the process of the treatment despite the time missed at school/work. Some young people and their parents saw a real benefit to appointments that could be fitted into a 'NHS seven-day' service model, but this did not apply to all interviewees.
Keywords: NHS seven-day service; orthodontic appointments; participant perspectives; school performance; young person satisfaction.