Dr. Enihomo Obadan-Udoh, DDS, MPH, Dr. Med. Sc.
2018 Hellman Fellow
Assistant Professor Division of Oral Epidemiology and Dental Public Health Associate Program Director, Dental Public Health Department of Preventive and Restorative Dental Sciences School of Dentistry
Project Title: Patient Engagement in Quality and Safe Activities at the Dental Office – An Exploratory Study
As dental professionals, it is our duty to deliver care that is safe and of the highest quality during clinical encounters. To ensure that we are consistently delivering the highest possible quality of dental care, it is necessary to engage patients as vigilant partners in the care delivery process. Patients are an invaluable source of information, since they are present throughout the continuum of their own care and often observe conditions that might be missed by conventional systems or that the healthcare team has become inured to. Patient involvement in quality and safety activities will provide an additional layer of defense against the occurrence of safety incidents (medical errors, near misses, adverse events) and foster patient activation. In dentistry, very little has been done to examine the role of patients in promoting dental care quality and safety. This knowledge gap means that dental professionals are not maximizing the opportunities for learning within their practices and therefore inadvertently creating an environment for sub-optimal quality and safety. The goal of this study is to evaluate the willingness of dental patients to participate in quality and safety activities at the dental office, the factors that affect their willingness or extent of participation, and the best strategies for engaging them. Findings from this study will inform future work on the development and testing of patient-centered interventions to enhance quality and safety at the dental office.