Barnes JJ, Patel S, Mannocci F. Why do general dental practitioners refer to a specific specialist endodontist in practice? International Endodontic Journal.
Aims To identify the factors that influence the decision of general dental practitioners (GDPs) in Northern Ireland to refer to a specific specialist endodontist.
Methodology A self-administered questionnaire was sent to 220 GDPs in Northern Ireland. The questionnaire comprised questions on demographic characteristics, pattern of practice, pattern of referral and factors influencing the decision to refer to a specific specialist endodontist in practice. The data were analysed using descriptive statistics and the chi-squared (χ2) test at the 0.05 level of significance.
Results The response rate was 81%. All respondents stated that they carried out root canal treatment, and the majority (83%) stated that they also carried out root canal retreatment. A minority of respondents (11%) stated that they carried out surgical endodontics. These individuals were more likely to be men, hold a postgraduate qualification, or work in a rural location. The majority of respondents (94%) referred patients with an endodontic problem. These individuals were more likely to be women, not hold a postgraduate qualification, or not carry out surgical endodontics. GDPs indicated a preference for referring to a specialist endodontist in practice over other treatment providers. Factors considered to be of importance in the decision to refer to a specialist endodontist in practice included the practice location of, reputation of, communication with and patient management by the specialist endodontist. The greatest proportion of respondents ranked short waiting time for a consultation as the top promoter when referring to a specific specialist endodontist in practice.
Conclusion The decision by GDPs to refer to a specific specialist endodontist in practice is multifactorial and influenced by several factors independent from the nature of endodontic disease. In Northern Ireland, the top promoter for referring to a specific specialist endodontist in practice was a relatively short waiting time for a consultation.