4839.0 - Patient Experiences in Australia: Summary of Findings, 2015-16 Quality Declaration 
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 15/11/2016   
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DENTAL PROFESSIONALS

Visiting a dental professional for a regular check up is important for maintaining healthy teeth and gums. While there are no official guidelines in Australia on the recommended frequency of visiting a dental professional, most dental diseases are completely preventable, and early intervention can assist in promoting good oral health as well as overall health. This chapter presents data on people who saw a dental professional in the previous 12 months. Respondents were asked about the frequency of their visits, as well as about the services they had used, barriers to accessing care and their experience with the health care professionals.

In 2015-16, half of people (48%) aged 15 years and over saw a dental professional at least once in the previous 12 months. This proportion has remained steady over the last six cycles of the survey (2010-11 to 2015-16). See Table 1 in Downloads.

As with GPs and medical specialists, more females than males saw a dental professional (52% compared with 44%). People aged 85 and over were the least likely to see a dental professional (37%). See Table 2.2 in Downloads.

Graph Image for Proportion of persons 15 years and over, visited a dental professional in the previous 12 months(a)

Footnote(s): (a) Includes dentist, dental hygienist and dental specialists

Source(s): Patient Experience Survey: Summary of Findings



People living in areas of least socio-economic disadvantage were more likely to see a dental professional than those living in the areas of most disadvantage (61% compared with 37%). However, of those who saw a dental professional, people in areas of most socio-economic disadvantage were more likely to visit four or more times in the previous 12 months than those living in the areas of least disadvantage (14% compared with 10%). See Tables 3.2 and 15.2 in Downloads.

Graph Image for Proportion of persons 15 years and over, visited a dental professional in previous 12 months(b)

Footnote(s): (b) Includes dentist, dental hygienist and dental specialists for 2011 Socio-Economic Disadvantage: a lower Index of Disadvantage quintile (e.g. the first quintile) indicates an area with relatively greater disadvantage and a lack of advantage in general. A higher Index of Disadvantage (e.g. the fifth quintile) indicates an area with a relative lack of disadvantage and greater advantage in general

Source(s): Patient Experience Survey: Summary of Findings



People living in major cities were more likely to see a dental professional than those living in outer regional, remote or very remote areas (50% compared with 40%). See Table 3.2 in Downloads.

BARRIERS

A benefit of the Patient Experience Survey is that data can be collected from those who did not access health services as well as from those who did. It is therefore possible to obtain information from people who may have needed to access a health service, but did not access this service, and the reasons they did not access the health service.

People were more likely to delay seeing a dental professional in the previous 12 months because of cost than any other health professional. One in five people (19%) who needed to see a dental professional delayed seeing or had not seen one because of the cost compared to one in twelve (8%) who had delayed seeing a medical specialist. Females were more likely than males to delay seeing or not see a dental professional due to cost (21% compared with 17%). See Table 14.2 in Downloads.

People aged 25-44 years were the most likely to delay seeing or not see a dental professional because of cost, with one in four (25%) in this category. See Table 14.2 in Downloads.

People living in the areas of most socio-economic disadvantage were twice as likely to delay seeing or not see a dental professional due to cost compared with those living in areas of least disadvantage (27% compared with 11%). See Table 15.2 in Downloads.

Graph Image for Proportion of persons 15 years and over, delayed or did not see a dental professional due to cost(c)

Footnote(s): (c) Includes dentist, dental hygienist and dental specialists for 2011 Socio-Economic Disadvantage: a lower Index of Disadvantage quintile (e.g. the first quintile) indicates an area with relatively greater disadvantage and a lack of advantage in general. A higher Index of Disadvantage (e.g. the fifth quintile) indicates an area with a relative lack of disadvantage and greater advantage in general

Source(s): Patient Experience Survey: Summary of Findings



People living in inner regional areas and outer regional, remote or very remote areas were more likely to delay seeing or not see a dental professional due to cost compared with those living in major cities (23% and 22% compared with 18%). See Table 15.2 in Downloads.

PUBLIC DENTISTRY

Of the population who saw a dental professional in the previous 12 months, one in eight people (13%) received public dental care. People aged 65 years and over were more likely to receive public dental care than those aged 15-64 years (16% compared with 12%). See Table 14.2 in Downloads.

Of those who saw a dental professional, people living in the areas of most socio-economic disadvantage were four times more likely to receive public dental care than those living in areas of least disadvantage (26% compared with 6%). Similarly, of those who saw a dental professional, people living in outer regional, remote or very remote areas of Australia were more likely to receive public dental care compared with those living in major cities of Australia (20% compared with 11%). See Table 15.2 in Downloads.

Of the population who needed to see a dental professional in the previous 12 months, 5% had been placed on the public dental waiting list. People living in the areas of most socio-economic disadvantage were more likely to have been on a public dental waiting list than those living in areas of least disadvantage (13% compared with 2%). Similarly, people living in outer regional, remote or very remote areas were more likely to have been on a public waiting list than those living in major cities (8% compared with 4%). See Table 15.2 in Downloads.

EXPERIENCE WITH DENTAL PROFESSIONALS

The way that a patient is treated by a health professional is an important aspect of their satisfaction with their care. All respondents who had seen a dental professional were asked for their perceptions on how they were treated by the dental professionals they had seen.

Of those who had seen a dental professional in the previous 12 months, 84% reported that the dental professional always listened carefully to them, 86% reported that they always showed them respect and 87% reported that they always spent enough time with them. Similar patterns were reported by male and female patients. These three measures had all increased by 2% since 2014-15. See Table 14.2 in Downloads.