Objective. To quantify the role of practice characteristics in patient-specific receipt of dental diagnostic radiographic services.
Data Source/Study Setting. Florida Dental Care Study (FDCS).
Study Design. The FDCS was a 48-month prospective observational cohort study of community-dwelling adults. Participants' dentists were asked to complete a questionnaire about their practice characteristics.
Data Collection/Extraction Methods. In-person interviews and clinical examinations were conducted at baseline, 24, and 48 months, with 6-monthly telephone interviews in between. A single multivariate (four radiographic service outcomes) multivariable (multiple explanatory covariates) logistic regression was used to model service receipts.
Principal Findings. These practice characteristics were significantly associated with patient-specific receipt of radiographic services: number of different practices attended during follow-up; dentist's rating of how busy the practice was; typical waiting time for a new patient examination; practice size; percentage of patients that the dentist reported as interested in details about the condition of their mouths; percentage of African American patients in the practice; percentage of patients in the practice who do not have dental insurance; and dentist's agreement with a statement regarding whether patients should be dismissed from the practice. Effects had differential magnitudes and directions of effect, depending upon radiograph type.
Conclusions. Practice characteristics were significantly associated with patient-specific receipt of services. These effects were independent of patient-specific disease level and patient-specific sociodemographic characteristics, suggesting that practitioners do influence receipt of these diagnostic services. These findings are consistent with the conclusion that practitioners act in response to a mix of patients' interests, economic self-interests, and their own treatment preferences.