The General Dental Council (GDC), responsible for the regulation of all practising dental professionals in the United Kingdom, appointed Enventure Research to undertake a programme of qualitative research to inform the development of the new Standards of Conduct, Performance and Ethics. As part of their registration with the GDC, all dental professionals agree to adhere to a set of professional standards set by the GDC which aim to protect both patients and dental professionals.
Since the Standards were last published in May 2005, the GDC had experienced significant changes to the makeup of its registrants, suggesting a need to revise these Standards. The new draft document contained a revised set of standards divided into nine Principles stating what patients can expect from their dental professional.
As part of the programme of research, GDC registrants were targeted to participate in a series of focus groups and in depth interviews, with the aim of understanding if the standards and guidance that had been drafted within the new document were relevant, appropriate and fit for purpose based on the experiences of dental professionals. A qualitative approach was taken to the research in order to provide significant depth of understanding.
A series of five focus groups and 20 in depth interviews were carried out with GDC registrants from across the UK. Focus groups were stratified to include a representative mix of dental professional roles, genders and ethnicities, with each group lasting for two hours. The in depth interviews were carried out with a broad mix of registrants based on their role, country of work and registration, and workplace type, and lasted for approximate 45 minutes.
Focus groups and interviews were facilitated Enventure Research’s experienced moderators, who followed a discussion guide to ensure all topics were covered. Prior to taking part, participants were required to read a copy of the draft standards to ensure they could contribute effectively to the discussion.
Results and Benefits to the Client
Insight gained from the qualitative research demonstrated that there was a general acceptance of the draft Standards document. The majority understood the need for a revised set of Standards and felt that what was set out in the new document was reasonable. Awareness of the existing Standards was high, and participants generally perceived that the new draft Standards had greater clarity.
Interesting and useful feedback was provided on each of the nine Principles outlined in the new draft Standards, with further discussion and suggestions made about how best to communicate the new Standards to all GDC registrants. Enventure Research provided detailed analysis and reporting on the findings, which were used to further inform the development of the new draft Standards for dental professionals.
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