Patient-centred dental care: review finds poor understanding of the term in the limited available literature


The Institute of Medicine has described Patient-centred care (PCC) as,  ‘provision of care that is respectful of and responsive to individual patient preferences, needs, and values and ensuring that patient values guide all clinical decisions’

PCC is recognised as a key element of quality in health care. The aim of this review was to identify the features of PCC relevant to dentistry and ascertain the current research evidence base underpinning its use as a measure of quality within general dental practice.


Searches were undertaken in PubMed, Medline, PsychINFO, SocINDEX, Dentistry & Oral Sciences Source, The Cochrane Library ,CINAHL, HMIC, Web of Science, Goggle and Google scholar.   Any study that investigated the concept of ‘patient-centred care’ within any aspect of dentistry was considered.

The key inclusion criteria were; Publication of primary research study within peer-reviewed journal; Research related to dentistry
; Research findings describing a conceptual framework for patient-centred care or its constructs.


  • Only 3 papers met the inclusion criteria
  • None of the papers identified were based in general dental practice
  • None of the three studies sought the views of patients.
  • Some distinct differences were noted between the key features of PCC reported within the dental literature and those developed within the NHS Patient Experience Framework.


The authors concluded

Delivery of patient-centred care is an important aspect of providing quality dentistry, but there appears to be a poor understanding of the term within the existing literature. This paper demonstrates that there is only limited evidence to provide an understanding of patient-centred care within dentistry and the research, which has been published, does not relate to general dental practice.


The review has employed an extensive search of the literature so is unlikely to have missed any important studies. It is disappointing then that so few general practice based studies have been carried out , particularly as  this is where most dentistry is carried out and also that the involvement of the ‘patient’s voice’ has been sadly lacking. The reviews discussion is interesting and the observation that some of the domains of PCC may be different within dentisty deserve further investigation.


Mills I, Frost J, Cooper C, Moles DR, Kay E. Patient-centred care in general dental practice–a systematic review of the literature. BMC Oral Health. 2014 Jun 5;14:64. doi: 10.1186/1472-6831-14-64. PubMed PMID: 24902842; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4054911.

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