Trends in dental productivity between male and female dentists

In light of the current and projected dental labour force shortage, variation in productivity trends between male and female dentists is an important issue for labour force planning due to the projected increased workforce participation of female dentists.

Objectives: To examine a range of productivity measures between male and female dentists over a 20-year period among Australian private general dentists.

Methods: Data were collected from a national survey conducted every five years since 1983 among a longitudinal sample with supplementation at each subsequent round (88, 93, 98, 03). Data were weighted by age and sex to provide representative estimates. A range of productivity measures were analysed: patients per day (PPD), hours per day (HPD), hours per day chair-side (HPDC), patients per hour (PPH), days per week (DPW) and weeks per year (WPY).

Results: Response rates at each round were over 71% yielding 320, 433, 415, 442 and 511 dentists for analysis. Over the survey period, male dentists’ productivity declined significantly (p<0.05) from baseline for: PPD (88,93,98,03); PPH (88,93,98,03) and DPW (98,03) while there was no significant change in female dentists’ productivity. Both males and females showed a significant increase in HPD and HPDC in 03 compared with baseline. While males generally exhibited significantly higher productivity in each survey year compared to females, there was no significant difference found between males and females for HPDC and PPH in 93 to 03.

Conclusion: Over the last 20 years, declining male dentists’ productivity has led to a convergence with female dentists’ productivity, which has remained stable or increased. The convergence in productivity between males and females indicates that declining productivity of male dentists rather than the increasing feminisation of dentistry is likely to be an important supply issue in labour force planning. Supported by: Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing, AIHW, NHMRC.

S Mihailidis*, AJ Spencer, DS Brennan

Presented at the 84th General Session and Exhibition of the IADR, 28 June – 1 July 2006, Brisbane Australia

Note: * indicates presenter

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