Research | Published:

Developing sustainability in a dental practice through an action research approach

BDJ volume 225, pages 409413 (14 September 2018) | Download Citation


Key points

  • Reports on the implementation of sustainability improvement measures in a dental practice.

  • Demonstrates the suitability of 'action research' as a process to enable change.

  • Highlights the benefits of a participatory approach to developing sustainability interventions.



For dental practices to become more environmentally sustainable, the full co-operation of all practice staff can lead to greater engagement with proposed initiatives. Action research is a participatory approach to change that involves participants in the decisions that affect them.


The aim of this study was to collaboratively develop interventions to improve environmental sustainability at one dental practice.


This was a mixed methods study following an action research process for intervention design. The study was set in a mixed NHS/private dental practice in England, UK.


Participants engaged in the process and were able to choose the measures they wished to implement. Feedback showed that whilst some measures had been discarded, others had led to changes both in professional and personal behaviour.


Action research offers an innovative and constructive method of engaging participants in developing their own sustainability strategies and can encourage positive change.

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The authors would like to thank the funders for their support of this project and the staff at the dental practice for their participation.

Author information


  1. School of Nursing and Midwifery, University of Plymouth;

    • J. Grose
    •  & J. Richardson
  2. Peninsula Dental School, University of Plymouth;

    • L. Burns
    • , I. Mills
    • , M. Nasser
    •  & D. Moles
  3. Plymouth Business School, University of Plymouth;

    • R. Mukonoweshuro
  4. General dental practice, Devon

    • I. Mills


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Competing interests

This study was funded by a grant of £8,000 from Dental Education and Training Ltd (Company number 07796785).

Corresponding author

Correspondence to L. Burns.

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