Communication: Strategies for communicating with older dental patients

Pamela S. Stein, Joanna A. Aalboe, Matthew W. Savage, Allison M. Scott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Background. Communication between dentists and patients 65 years or older is a critical aspect of providing optimum care particularly given the increasing number of older adults and the communication barriers they often encounter. Methods. The authors conducted a targeted literature review of the broad health communication literature and published health literacy guidelines to examine the barriers to effective communication that are specific to the older adult population as well as strategies for overcoming these barriers. Results. Findings from health communication and health literacy research provide insight into techniques to improve communication with older patients such as preparing an agenda for the appointment exhibiting warm nonverbal behavior listening attentively asking open-ended questions using simple language presenting key points one at a time and providing patients with written instructions. Conclusions. Physical psychological and literacy issues pertaining to both patients and providers present barriers to effective communication. Practitioners can surmount these barriers by enacting communication strategies tailored to older adults. Practical Implications. Dentists can overcome barriers to communication and improve the quality of patient care by considering the communication barriers specific to older adults and enacting strategies to overcome these barriers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)159-164
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of the American Dental Association
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2014


  • Aging
  • Communication
  • Literacy
  • Older adults

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dentistry (all)


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