This is a summary, written by members of the CITF Secretariat, of:

McLaughlin KJ, Khanna M, Allison PJ, Glogauer M, McNally ME, Quiñonez C, Rock L, Siqueira W, Madathil SA. Investigating the perceptions and experiences of Canadian dentists on dental regulatory bodies’ communications and guidelines during the COVID-19 pandemic. Community Dent Oral Epidemiol. 2024 Jan 8. doi: 10.1111/cdoe.12939.

The results and/or conclusions contained in the research do not necessarily reflect the views of all CITF members.

A CITF-supported study, published in Community Dentistry and Oral Epidemiology, highlighted the negative views held by Canadian dentists of the COVID-19 communications about health risks and guidelines issued by their regulatory bodies. Study participants expressed feeling confused and overwhelmed by delayed, vague, lengthy, unclear guidelines that were difficult to follow and understand. This feedback can help guide regulatory bodies in providing clear, timely, and practical guidelines to better equip dentists to protect themselves, their patients, and the general population during current and future pandemics. This study was led by Dr. Sreenath A. Madathil (McGill University) in collaboration with Dr. Walter Siqueira (University of Saskatchewan) and Dr. Paul Allison (McGill University).

Key findings:

  • 50.0% of respondents evaluated their experiences navigating their regulatory body’s communications (guidelines, scientific reports, and journals) about providing dental care during the pandemic unfavorably, while 26.9% had a positive opinion and 22.9% were neutral. Participants encountered challenges and frustrations amid the COVID-19 pandemic, grappling with diverse regulations and communications from dental bodies. Dentists urged for expedited, clearer, and more frequent updates, expressing difficulty in navigating the overwhelming amount of information.
  • Participants had negative opinions of how guidelines were communicated to them: 43.5% of respondents negatively evaluated their regulatory body’s guideline communications, 33.3% of respondents had positive opinions, and 23.3% were neutral. While some bodies offered helpful guidance, many participants felt the need for improved communication on guidelines, with faster, clearer, and more frequent updates.
  • Participants had negative opinions about their regulatory body’s COVID-19 risk guidelines: 44.6% of respondents negatively evaluated their regulatory body’s guidelines, 29.4% had a positive opinion, and 26.0% were neutral.

This study was conducted with 644 Canadian dentists who were recruited through email invitations sent by nine provincial dental associations or regulatory bodies. This qualitative research was part of a prospective longitudinal cohort study that collected data using online questionnaires from August 2020 to November 2021.

The majority of participants were female (56.4%) and white (74.7%) dentists, with a mean age of 47.4 years. About 80% of respondents were from three provinces: Ontario (37.4%), Quebec (25.5%) and British Columbia (16.9%). Community settings were urban (34.2%), suburban (25.9%), metropolitan (22.8%), rural (16%), and remote (0.8%).