GDC publishes results of in-depth public survey

13 December, 2019
GDC publishes results of in-depth public survey
As part of our commitment to using evidence and insight to guide all of our work, today we have published the results of our 2018/19 Patient and Public Survey. The research, which includes both quantitative and qualitative elements and presents the seventh instalment since 2011, examines public attitudes on a range of key issues relating to dentistry and how the professions are regulated.
One key finding reveals public attitudes about where we should focus our attention most. When asked, a greater proportion opted towards prevention rather than taking action once something had gone wrong. The survey found that nearly two-thirds (65%) thought that our focus should be balanced, whilst one in five (22%) said we should focus on prevention, and just 7% thought it should be on taking action in instances of serious complaints. On the subject, one interview participant said: “If you’re having to take action, it’s already gone too far… if you can prevent it from happening, then that’s the best outcome for everybody.”

In relation to how dental professionals are regulated, seven in ten people (73%) were confident that the GDC was effectively regulating dental professionals. Of those who were not confident, the two most commonly cited reasons for this were: that they didn’t know dentists were regulated and that they’d had a bad personal experience of dental care.
The research also found that the proportion of people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds who said they were confident that the GDC is regulating effectively was significantly lower than people from White backgrounds (64% compared with 74%). We are considering further research to understand this more clearly.

A further key finding relates to the cost of dental treatment for patients and how this might impact on their expectations. The public were asked for their views on paying for services and care, and whether that influenced their expectations of dentists compared with

other healthcare professionals. Although responses were mixed, two in five (39%) either strongly agreed or tended to agree that they expected more from dentists than other healthcare professionals because they pay for treatment.

The 2018/19 Patient and Public Survey was undertaken on behalf of the GDC by Ipsos MORI. The research comprised a survey, in-depth interviews and a deliberative workshop.