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Patient Profiling

May 1, 2004
Workshop hosted by Oral-B examines unique approach to improve patient compliance.

by Kristine A. Hodsdon, RDH, BS

Dental professionals involved with the recent International Association of Dental Research meeting also attended a workshop hosted by Oral-B
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After the International Association of Dental Research meeting in March, a panel of nearly three dozen dentists and dental hygiene professionals attended a workshop sponsored by Oral-B Laboratories. Dr. Paul Warren, vice president of clinical research and dental affairs for Oral-B, hosted the international group of opinion leaders in dentistry. Dr. Warren introduced a new program designed to improve patient compliance by tailoring preventive strategies.

The workshop divided attendees into seven teams. The team at right consisted of (left to right) Sebastian Ciancio, DDS, J. Max Goodson, DDS, PhD, Jan Pimlott, DipDH, BScD, MSc, Pam Overman, BSDH, EdD, and Caren Barnes, RDH, MS.
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The practice-based program allows dental professionals to quickly and easily assess the clinical, social, and emotional needs of a patient. Dental professionals apply these findings to determine the optimal, individualized therapeutic approach toward improving compliance and, subsequently, oral health.

In sharp contrast to dental services 50 years ago, modern oral care today offers far more therapeutic options. The best option is determined through improved communication between the patient and dental professional.

Citing a 2002 study by McGrath, et al. in the British Dental Journal, Dr. Warren pointed out that three out of four patients today believe the health of their teeth and gums has a significant impact on the overall quality of life. Two-thirds of the patients state that their oral health affects their appearance, comfort, and eating patterns. Nearly half acknowledge that oral health is an important self-confidence factor in both their social and romantic lives.

Despite these beliefs, patents fail to brush adequately and for far too short a period of time, replace their toothbrushes too infrequently, and do not floss routinely.

Clean teeth and healthy gums are the focus of consumer attitudes toward oral health. Tooth brushing is, according to consumer surveys, at the core of oral-care activities. Consumer research is the foundation of the Oral-B's product portfolio, according to Kathy Grealish, vice president of marketing for the company. Oral-B's worldwide investigations into the attitudes, needs, and behaviors that motivate patients have not only been the driving force behind the development of new products, but have now been formulated into an easily implemented, 30-second program of individualized needs assessment.

The genesis for the patient assessment program was a series of at-home interviews with over 1,200 individuals, stratified by age, gender, and type of toothbrush routinely used. The interviews employed a comprehensive 35-page questionnaire. Consumer attitudes and behaviors were segmented into 84 individual schemes, which were used to develop six broad primary and secondary motivational dimensions that ranged from most to least involved in oral self-care.

To evaluate the process, workshop attendees were divided into teams. Each team was presented with a video that portrayed one of the six personality types. Team members were asked to consider 10 probing statements relating to oral care activities of the patient portrayed, as well as how that patient might respond to each of the statements, using a scale ranging from "strongly agree" to "strongly disagree." Participants were then asked to identify the patient type and, based on that profile, to select the most suitable treatment option.

As an added activity, participants were asked to personally respond to the 10 questions to assess their own personality type. At the conclusion of the two exercises, each team leader presented the group's assessments. The audience then evaluated the potential of the program as a tool for use within the practice setting. Overall, comments were extremely supportive. The workshop participants believed that a program with the ability to identify tooth-cleaning needs and offer toothbrush recommendations based on self-motivational profiling could be a useful element in improving compliance for most patients.

For more information about the symposium contact Dr. Paul Warren, vice president of clinical research and dental affairs for Oral-B Laboratories by email at: [email protected]

Kristine A. Hodsdon, RDH, BS, is the Northeast manager of professional education for Oral-B Laboratories. She is the author of "Demystifying Smiles: Strategies for the Dental Team." She can be contacted at [email protected].