From dental care providers' perspective, it is vital to put efforts into improving the quality of services delivered. Therefore, the exploration of patients' satisfaction with dental services and their preferences with regard to the factors involved in their dental care choices should be one of the main areas of focus in a dental care office, by focusing on the quality management.
The aim of this research was to determine the factors that patients consider important when choosing a dentist, and bring evidence on the importance of implementing a quality management system for dental care.
The data analysis was conducted on a national representative sample of patients who had visited a dentist at least once in the last 12 months, in Romania. Using a survey which explored patients' satisfaction with their dental care visits, data were collected between October and November 2012 with the help of computer-assisted telephone interviews. Information about socio-demographics, frequency of accessing dental care, factors associated with choosing a dentist, and the level of patients' satisfaction were collected.
Out of the 1,650 people who agreed to participate in the study, 724 respondents (43.8%) represented the sample who visited a dentist at least once in the last 12 months and whose responses were analyzed in this article. The majority of the respondents were satisfied with the quality of dental services received, with 85.91% of them rating their satisfaction with 5, on a scale from 1 to 5. According to a high majority of the patients (n=680, 93.92%), the communication with their dentist was extremely easy. The most frequently mentioned factors that respondents took into account when choosing a dentist were the dentist's competence (22.22%), the recommendation from someone known (20.56%), and the overall quality of the service provided (19.72%). Among the other factors mentioned were patience and respect.
The factors patients consider important when choosing a dentist are the dentist's competence, the recommendation from someone known, and the overall quality of the service provided, but interpersonal factors such as patience and respect are also valued. Our results are relevant for dental education providers, who should consider shaping their curricula as to ensure they train future dentists in a manner that will meet patients' expectations and increase patient satisfaction levels.