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Assessing patient perspectives and drivers to seek or decline periodontal care in a university-based, post-graduate periodontal clinic


This study assessed patient perception regarding their evaluation and treatment plan in the UCSF Postgraduate Periodontal Clinic (PG Perio Clinic), and the factors driving patient decision making.

The purpose of this study was: (1) to determine how patients were referred to the PG Perio Clinic; (2) to elicit patient reactions; (3) to determine the rate that surgical therapy was initiated; (4) to elicit factors that could improve patients' experience and treatment plan acceptance.

A study sample of 1,000 recent and current patients of the PG Perio Clinic was selected at random. This sample received a questionnaire including both closed- and open-ended questions about their referral to the PG Perio Clinic, their evaluation, and their treatment plan.

The overall response rate was 18.1%. Females were slightly more represented (54.1%). Respondents tended to be non-Hispanic whites (68.5%) over 60 years old (49.7%). There was a wide and evenly-represented range of reported income.

Respondents were referred to the PG Perio Clinic through a variety of providers, with cost being the primary reason for selecting the Clinic (56.4%). Respondents generally had positive reviews, including personable residents, professionalism, and clear explanations at their evaluation. Negative responses tended to include more non-resident factors, including overall treatment time, cost, and travel time.

The overwhelming majority of respondents rated their treatment plan as reasonable (90.6%). There was a high rate of treatment plan acceptance (80.7%), with periodontal surgery (including osseous resection and crown lengthening) or implants included in the treatment plan for over 40%.

Among the 19.3% of respondents who declined treatment, most reported their deterrent was cost (65.7%), while another concern was overall treatment time (22.9%). Respondents tended to agree that lowered cost would have lead them to reconsider accepting treatment (54.3%), but 22.3% reported that they would not have reconsidered their decision.

The results indicate that, in general, respondents had positive reactions to their evaluation, resident, and treatment plan. The questionnaire also elicited some surprising complaints and simple issues that could be addressed going forward to improve the PG Perio Clinic for patients.

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