Public perception of cross-infection control in dentistry

Since the advent of HIV/AIDS at the beginning of the 1980s, concern has generated considerable impetus for change in cross-infection control procedures in dentistry. This process has been hastened partly by media coverage which, in tending to favour sensation over rational discourse, has played a not inconsiderable role in shaping public understanding and expectations. This study aimed to investigate public perceptions of cross-infection control in dentistry in Australia using a postal follow-up to the 1995 National Dental Telephone Interview Survey. The postal survey response rate was 85.2 per cent. Concerns about the procedures used by their dentist to sterilize instruments were reported by 13.3 per cent of respondents overall, and this was greater among non-health-card-holders, individuals who mainly spoke a language other than English in the home, and those who reported a non-routine dental visiting pattern. Avoidance or delaying of dental visits due to the perceived cross-infection risk was reported by an overall 3.6 per cent of people, and this was higher among females and those who expressed concern about cross-infection control. The profession has a responsibility to ensure that information on the measures which have been taken to reduce the risk of cross-infection in dentistry is disseminated as widely and as clearly as possible so that undue public concern and avoidance of dental care are minimized.

Thomson WM, Stewart JF, Carter KD, Spencer AJ

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Australian Dental Journal. 1997 Oct; 42(5): 291-6
Published by theĀ Australian Dental Association

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