Factors influencing the periodontal referral process

Christina H. Park, Mark V. Thomas, Adam J. Branscum, Ershal Harrison, Mohanad Al-Sabbagh

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    8 Scopus citations


    Background: General dental practitioners (GPs) assess the periodontal status of patients and make decisions to treat patients or refer them to a periodontist. There is little information available regarding this process. The purpose of this study is to identify significant factors that GPs consider important in selecting a particular periodontist. The findings were compared and contrasted with responses of periodontists to gain perspectives from both groups involved in the referral process. Methods: Data from an online cross-sectional survey of GPs (n = 533) and periodontists (n = 533) who practice in the southeastern region of the United States (from the databases of the American Dental Association and American Academy of Periodontology member directories) were obtained. Results: The specialist's clinical skill was identified as the most important factor influencing periodontal referrals by GPs, whereas periodontists identified a previous positive experience between a GP and periodontist as the most important factor. In a descending order of importance, the top three rating averages (rated out of five) by GPs were clinical skill (4.84), a previous positive experience between a GP and periodontist (4.57), and communication (4.52). The top three factors of periodontists were a previous positive experience between a GP and periodontist (4.66), communication (4.40), and the likelihood of a good patient and periodontist rapport (4.29). Conclusions: The periodontist's clinical skill was chosen by GPs as the primary factor influencing the referral decisions of GPs. Periodontists perceived a previous positive experience between the GP and periodontist as the most influential factor. Further studies are required to gain more insight into the referral process. J Periodontol 2011;82:1288-1294.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1288-1294
    Number of pages7
    JournalJournal of Periodontology
    Issue number9
    StatePublished - Sep 2011


    • Periodontics
    • Practice management
    • Referral and consultation

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Periodontics


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