Stage of readiness can contribute to providers’ clinical behavioral patterns, but little is understood about its impact in dentistry. The purpose of this investigation is to (1) describe the stage of readiness of general dentists in North Carolina (NC) to deliver preventive oral health services to infants and toddlers and (2) assess factors that may be associated with stage of readiness.
Utilizing a survey study design, 1,010 surveys were distributed to NC General Dentists. The outcome variable, stage of readiness, was categorized into three stages: pre-contemplation, contemplation/preparation and action/maintenance. Explanatory variables included comfort, knowledge, and demographic characteristics. Univariate, bivariate, and proportional odds modeling was performed using SAS 9.1. Level of significance was set at p<0.05.
A 40% (N=406) response rate was achieved. Over half (58%, N=235) of providers reported delivering preventive services to infants and toddlers, 12% (N=48) were considering delivering these services, and 30% (N=119) reported no involvement with this age group. Comfort was significantly associated with general dentists’ stage of readiness. As practitioners’ comfort increased, the likelihood of practitioners performing these services (action stage) was 3.4 (2.1, 5.5; p<.0001) and 5.8 (3.9, 8.6, 8.25; p<.0001) times greater when compared to those contemplating and those not willing to perform these services, respectively. Increased comfort also increased the likelihood that practitioners would consider providing these services, versus those who were not considering it (1.7 [1.0, 2.7] p=0.03).
Strategies to increase general practitioners’ comfort levels could positively affect the likelihood of providing care to infants and toddlers.