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.
The GDC carried out a public consultation regarding the new draft standards, however accepted that the response to the consultation was likely to be low. It therefore wished to supplement the consultation response with high calibre qualitative research specifically targeted at patients and members of the public, in order to explore whether the patient expectations set out in the draft standards were accurate. Enventure Research was commissioned to undertake this research. A qualitative approach was chosen in order to gain a significant depth of understanding and to make the topic more accessible and easily understood by the general public.
A series of six focus groups were held with a mixture of patients and non-patients across six different locations, representing England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The focus groups each lasted two hours and were digitally recorded for analysis.
Groups were moderated by Enventure Research’s experienced researchers. A discussion guide, designed by Enventure Research in partnership with the GDC, was followed to ensure all topics were covered. The participants recruited were demographically representative of the city from which they were recruited in terms of age, gender, ethnicity and disability status, with each group attended by 9-11 participants.
Results and Benefits to the Client
Interesting and useful feedback was provided on each of the nine Principles outlined in the new draft standards. The findings demonstrated that the majority of patients’ current expectations when visiting a dental professional were met within the Standards.
Some useful suggestions for refinements to the Standards were made, including the suggestion that a patient-specific version should be made available. Enventure Research provided detailed analysis and reporting on the findings, which were used to further inform the development of the new draft GDC Standards.
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