Patient’s Compliance: A Dentist’s Viewpoint

Patient compliance is a term which is commonly heard yet often misunderstood. In scientific terms, patient compliance usually involves the degree to which patients follows the doctor’s instruction. However, it also applies to other situations, including medical device use, self-directed treatments, and last but not least, the general attitude and behaviour of the patients. At the same time, a non-compliant patient can inflict harm on himself. The consequences can also have a direct impact on the healthcare provider. 

While patient attitude is majorly regulated by himself, one strategy to improve patient compliance includes patient engagement. A trusting relationship between the dentist and the patient can be achieved by communication. While changing behaviour can be a complex issue, the former can be dealt with efficiently by developing a strong patient-physician relationship. Meanwhile, it’s in the dentist’s hands to communicate empathetically and efficiently with the patient. The patient, on the other hand, should be able to listen and implement whatever the professional has advised. 

Achieving patient compliance is not easy; hence it comes with challenges. These challenges are way more complicated for the dentists than the patient since they directly impact the treatment plan and productivity of the professional. Patient compliance begins with an understanding of our motivations and the human psyche. While behavioural and social networking is essential modules in a dental school, dentists are still not proficient in the techniques mentioned. 

Taking patients into confidence is the first and foremost thing a dentist should do. Ensuring all treatment modalities per the treatment plan will benefit the patient. 

Technology is another factor which can play a massive role in improving patient compliance. In a study, it was reported that telemedicine technology improves communication as patients have the option to communicate rather than wait until the next office visit. 

While advising treatment plans, patient involvement is another significant factor in enhancing compliance. The dental behaviour of the population is majorly influenced by domestic circumstances, diet, culture, and education. While dentists cannot control any of the factors assessing the patient’s background can enhance the outcome of the treatment. 

What Can Patients Do?

Patient compliance, also known as patient non-adherence, can present in many ways, such as fear of the dental chair and lack of understanding. Meanwhile, it can also present common misconceptions, which can go as far as x-rays being the reason behind cancer. 

While the dentist can help the patients get rid of these notions, the patient is also responsible for acknowledging their patterns. Facing one’s fear and taking the responsibility to be aware of the problem is the first step toward an effective treatment plan. In instances when patients are not able to understand the dynamics behind the dental plan, it makes it more challenging for healthcare providers to recommend and advise one. 

Consistently cancelling appointments, failing to follow the instructions, withholding important information or engaging in indecent behaviour also falls under non-compliant behaviour. This type of attitude is the most difficult to deal with, which directly impacts the service provided by the dentists. 

While it is not impossible to withdraw from the patient’s treatment plan, specific measures must be taken to ascertain the well-being of both the dentist and the patient. Following specific strategies to gain compliance and document non-compliance is critical to protect the dentists and their practice. 


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