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Patient aggression toward dentists

      Abstract

      Background

      Workplace violence toward health care professionals is both widespread and widely overlooked. Only 4 studies of aggression toward dentists have been published—none in the United States—with the prevalence of aggression ranging from 29% through 80%. The purpose of this study was to provide an initial estimate of rates of patient aggression in dental practices in the United States.

      Methods

      The authors surveyed 98 dentists recruited from the faculty and alumni network of a college of dentistry. Participants completed a confidential online survey assessing whether they had experienced any of 21 specific types of aggressive behaviors from their patients.

      Results

      Past-year aggression prevalence was 22.2%, 55.0%, and 44.4% for physical, verbal, and reputational aggression, respectively. Career prevalence was 45.5%, 74.0%, and 68.7% for physical, verbal, and reputational aggression, respectively. Rates did not differ by sex, race, ethnicity, specialty, age, years practicing, or average number of patients treated per day.

      Conclusions

      Participants reported levels of physical, verbal, and reputational aggression at rates comparable with those of other health care professionals in the United States and abroad. Additional research with larger representative samples of dentists in the United States is necessary to confirm these prevalence estimates. Future research should also investigate predictors and outcomes of patient aggression and prevention and intervention strategies.

      Practical Implications

      Substantial rates of patient aggression highlight the need to address this problem in dental practices. The authors discuss implications for the dental profession, including proactive steps that could be taken to reduce patient aggression in dental offices.

      Key Words

      Abbreviation Key:

      NYU (New York University)
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      Biography

      Dr. Rhoades is a research scientist, Department of Cariology and Comprehensive Care, New York University College of Dentistry, 137 E. 25th St, 6th Floor, New York, NY 10010.

      Biography

      Dr. Heyman is a professor, New York University College of Dentistry, New York, NY.

      Biography

      Dr. Eddy is a senior research scientist, New York University College of Dentistry, New York, NY.

      Biography

      Dr. Haydt was a dental student, New York University College of Dentistry, New York, NY, when this article was written. She now is an orthodontic resident, Colorado University Anschutz Medical Campus, Aurora, CO.

      Biography

      Dr. Glazman was a dental student, New York University College of Dentistry, New York, NY, when this article was written. She is now in private practice, The Dentists at Shadyside Place, Pittsburgh, PA, and Advanced Dental Solutions of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA.

      Biography

      Dr. DiSpirito was a dental student, New York University College of Dentistry, New York, NY, when this article was written. He is now a resident, Graduate Program in Orthodontics, Temple University Kornberg School of Dentistry, Philadelphia, PA.

      Biography

      Ms. Fat is a dental student, New York University College of Dentistry, New York, NY.

      Biography

      Ms. Guerrera is a dental student, New York University College of Dentistry, New York, NY.

      Biography

      Ms. Rascon is a dental student, New York University College of Dentistry, New York, NY.

      Biography

      Dr. Wolff is the_Morton Amsterdam Dean, School of Dental Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA.