Service provision patterns by main diagnoses and characteristics of patients


A. J. Spencer, AIHW Dental Statistics and Research Unit, Dental School, The University of Adelaide, Adelaide, South Australia 5005, Australia
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Abstract – Service provision patterns may be influenced not only by clinical oral health status leading to a diagnosis and treatment plan, but also by other variables such as patient characteristics. The main aim of this study was to investigate whether associations between services provided and patient factors would persist after controlling for the main presenting diagnosis or condition. A random sample of dentists surveyed in 1993–94 provided a response rate of 74%. Private general practitioners recorded service provision data from logs of 1–2 typical days of practice. Caries (26.5%) was the most prevalent diagnosis, followed by recall/maintenance care (19.0%), pulpal/periapical infection (10.9%), and failed restorations (10.4%). Diagnoses were associated with variation in the percentage of patients receiving services in main areas of service, and also with insurance status, sex and age distributions of patients, and type of visit (chi-square; P<0.05). Logistic regressions of receipt of services indicated statistically significant associations with patient characteristics and diagnosis categories. Controlling for diagnosis, uninsured patients and those visiting for emergencies had less favourable service patterns (e.g., higher odds of extractions, but lower odds of preventive and crown and bridge services) compared to patients who had dental insurance or visited for check-ups or other non-emergency dental problems. The influence of these factors on services provided has implications of public health importance in terms of appropriateness of care and social inequality.