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For Authors Continuing Education
Vol. 72, No. 3
ISSN: 1488-2159
April 2006


Perceptions and Attitudes of Canadian Dentists toward Digital and Electronic Technologies


• Carlos Flores-Mir, DDS, Cert Ortho, MSc, DSc •
• Neal G. Palmer, DDS, MSc, FRCD(C) •
• Herbert C. Northcott, PhD •
• Fareeza Khurshed, BSc •
• Paul W. Major, DDS, MSc, FRCD(C) •

A b s t r a c t

Objectives: To determine dentists' perceptions of the usefulness of digital technologies in improving dental practice and resolving practice issues; to determine dentists' willingness to use digital and electronic technologies; to determine perceived obstacles to the use of digital and electronic technologies in dental offices; and to determine dentists' attitudes toward Internet privacy issues.

Methods: An anonymous, self-administered survey of Canadian dentists was conducted by mail. A potential mailing list of 14,052 active Canadian dentists was compiled from the 2003 records of provincial regulatory bodies. For each province, 7.8% of the dentists were randomly selected with the help of computer software. The surveys were mailed to this stratified random sample of 1,096 dentists.

Results: The response rate was 28% (312/1,096). Of the 312 respondents, 4 (1%) were in full-time academic positions, 16 (5%) were not practising, and 9 (3%) provided incomplete data. Therefore, 283 survey responses were available for analysis. More than 60% of the dentists indicated that computer technology was quite capable or very capable of improving their current practice by increasing patient satisfaction, decreasing office expenses, increasing practice efficiency, increasing practice production, improving record quality and improving case diagnosis and treatment planning. More than 50% of respondents reported that digital photography and digital radiography were quite useful or very useful. About 70% of the dentists agreed or strongly agreed with using digital and electronic technologies to consult with dental specialists. Cost of equipment and lack of comfort with technology were regarded as significant or insurmountable obstacles by substantial proportions of respondents.

Conclusions: Respondents generally viewed digital and electronic technologies as useful to the profession. Increased office efficiency and production were perceived as positive effects of digital and electronic technologies. These technologies are more often used for consulting with colleagues rather than for consulting with patients. The major obstacles to the general use of these technologies were related to cost, lack of comfort with technology and differences in legislation between provinces and countries. Privacy issues were not perceived as a significant barrier.


MeSH Key Words: attitude of health personnel; computer systems/utilization; dentists; practice management, dental/organization & administration
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