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Relationships between dental personnel and non-dental primary health care providers in rural and remote Queensland, Australia: dental perspectives


Stuart, J and Hoang, H and Crocombe, L and Barnett, T, Relationships between dental personnel and non-dental primary health care providers in rural and remote Queensland, Australia: dental perspectives, BMC Oral Health, 17, (1) Article 99. ISSN 1472-6831 (2017) [Refereed Article]


Copyright Statement

Copyright 2017 The Authors. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

DOI: doi:10.1186/s12903-017-0389-y


Background: Collaboration between dental practitioners and non-dental primary care providers has the potential to improve oral health care for people in rural and remote communities, where access to oral health services is limited. However, there is limited research on collaboration between these professional disciplines. The purpose of this paper was to explore the relationships between dental practitioners and non-dental primary care providers from rural and remote areas of Queensland and to identify strategies that could improve collaboration between these disciplines from the perspective of dental participants.

Methods: Semi-structured interviews were conducted between 2013 and 2015 with visiting, local and regional dental practitioners (n = 12) who had provided dental services to patients from eight rural and remote Queensland communities that did not have a resident dentist. Participants were purposely recruited through a snow ball sampling technique. Interview data were analysed using thematic analysis with the assistance of QSR Nvivo v.10.

Results: Four major themes emerged from the data: (1) Communication between dental practitioners and rural primary care providers; (2) Relationships between dental and primary care providers; (3) Maintenance of professional dualism; (4) Strategies to improve interprofessional relationships (with subthemes: face to face meetings; utilisation of technology; oral health training for primary care providers; and having a community based oral health contact person). Participants observed that there was a lack of communication between the dental providers who saw patients from these rural communities and the primary care providers who worked in each community. This was attributed to poor communication, the high turnover of staff and the siloed behaviours of some practitioners. Visiting dental practitioners were likely to have stronger professional relationships with hospital nursing, administrative and allied health care staff who were often long term residents of the community.

Conclusions: The findings suggest that there was little relationship between the dental personnel and primary care providers. Interprofessional collaboration between dental care providers and non-dental rural primary care providers in the rural and remote communities sampled could be improved by having regular face to face meetings between practitioners from across the health disciplines, providing oral health education to primary care providers, establishing and maintaining effective communication and referral pathways, and exploring a greater role for tele-dentistry.


Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:collaboration, dental practitioners, interprofessional relationships, primary care providers, oral health, rural and remote health
Research Division:Biomedical and Clinical Sciences
Research Group:Dentistry
Research Field:Dentistry not elsewhere classified
Objective Division:Health
Objective Group:Specific population health (excl. Indigenous health)
Objective Field:Rural and remote area health
UTAS Author:Stuart, J (Dr Jacqueline Stuart)
UTAS Author:Hoang, H (Dr Ha Hoang)
UTAS Author:Crocombe, L (Associate Professor Leonard Crocombe)
UTAS Author:Barnett, T (Associate Professor Tony Barnett)
ID Code:117823
Year Published:2017
Web of Science® Times Cited:13
Deposited By:UTAS Centre for Rural Health
Deposited On:2017-06-28
Last Modified:2018-08-23
Downloads:93 View Download Statistics

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