The relationship between professional and commercial obligations in dentistry: a scoping review


Introduction The practice of dentistry has become increasingly commercialised and commodified. Conflicts between the commercial and professional obligations that dental practitioners face have been discussed in the academic literature. This review collates the available information and discusses how the area of commercialism and professionalism has developed.

Methods A scoping review was carried out to assess the current literature in this area. Several databases were searched using relevant terms. Following collection of literature sources these were initially screened for duplication.

Results Of the total of 141 sources which were reviewed by title, abstract and keywords, 47 sources were selected for full text review. Qualitative synthesis revealed the three overarching themes of: (1) preserving professional values; (2) the realities of dental practice; and (3) contrasting and conflicting priorities.

Conclusion The interaction between commercialism and professionalism presented in the reviewed literature suggested that commercial interests in dentistry are a direct threat to professional values. Accompanying this discussion was a relative dearth of pragmatic exploration of how this conflict might be managed. There was also a lack of consideration of how the corporatisation of dental businesses might affect - whether positively or negatively - the nexus between commercial and professional obligations in dentistry.

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Correspondence to Alexander C. L. Holden.

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Holden, A., Adam, L. & Thomson, W. The relationship between professional and commercial obligations in dentistry: a scoping review. Br Dent J 228, 117–122 (2020).

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