Patient perceptions of professionalism in dentistry

Mary E. Brosky, Oliver A. Keefer, James S. Hodges, Igor J. Pesun, Gary Cook

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


The purpose of this study was to examine how patients perceived the professionalism of University of Minnesota School of Dentistry students, faculty, and staff. Professionalism is defined by the authors as an image that will promote a successful relationship with the patient. Patients within comprehensive care clinics were asked to assess physical attributes and behaviors of the dental care providers using a questionnaire. The patients read statements dealing with characteristics of the dental care providers and responded as to whether they agreed, were neutral, or disagreed with the statement. The surveyed population consisted of 103 males and 97 females, 64 percent of whom lacked insurance coverage. Fifty-one percent of the patients were between the ages of forty-four and sixty-nine, but the overall age distribution was dispersed over a range of eighteen to one hundred. Our research found that all dental care providers displayed a professional appearance as well as behavior. The attire of the dental care provider affected the comfort and anxiety levels of patients, as did first impressions of both students and faculty. Most patients reported that students and faculty displayed effective time management and used appropriate language during the appointment. Finally, hairstyle, makeup, and jewelry appeared to have little effect on patients' opinions of the various dental care providers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)909-915
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of dental education
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2003

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Dr. Brosky is Assistant Professor, Division of Prosthodontics, Department of Restorative Sciences; Mr. Keefer is a Dental Student and participant in the Summer Research Fellowship Program; Dr. Hodges is Senior Research Associate, Division of Biostatistics; Dr. Pesun is Associate Professor, Division of Prosthodontics, Department of Restorative Sciences; and Dr. Cook is Associate Clinical Specialist, Division of Prosthodontics, Department of Restorative Sciences—all at the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry. Direct correspondence and requests for reprints to Dr. Mary Elizabeth Brosky, University of Minnesota, 9-470 Moos Tower, Minneapolis, MN 55455; 612-626-2470 phone; 612-626-1496 fax; This research was supported in part by the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry Summer Research Fellowship Program (NIH/5T35-DE07098-19) and the Minnesota Oral Health Clinical Research Center (NIH/NIDCR P30-DE09737).


  • Professional attire
  • Professional behavior
  • Professionalism


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