Research | Published:

Associates and their working environment: a comparison of corporate and non-corporate associates

BDJ volume 225, pages 425430 (14 September 2018) | Download Citation


Key points

  • Provides results of a study exploring the working environment of associates.

  • Demonstrates differences between associates working in corporate and non-corporate environments.

  • Discusses possible implications of these differences for the profession.



The share of the dental market held by corporate bodies continues to increase. With the profession currently facing many challenges it is important to understand their place in the profession and their effect.


This exploratory study aims to provide an insight into dental associates in relation to their working environment. Specifically, the differences between working in corporate and non-corporate environments in England.

Materials and methods

Secondary analysis of a self-report questionnaire examining demographics, pay, working conditions, job satisfaction and morale using a combination of closed and open-ended responses sent to randomly selected associate dentists who are BDA members. Responses from associates working in England solely in either the corporate or non-corporate sector were analysed.


Significant differences were seen between associates working in corporate practice when compared to those in non-corporates practice, for example, significantly less corporate associates were female and corporate associates reported relatively lower levels of autonomy and control.


The differences seen between sectors could be related to rationalisation and should this be the reality it could have far reaching effects on the profession and its ability to manage itself.


This study highlights some differences between the corporate and non-corporate dental sectors. Further work is needed to build a deeper understanding of the sector.

Listen to the author talk about the key findings in this paper in the associated video abstract. Available in the supplementary information online.

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I would like to thank the BDA Trust Fund and the Shirley Glasstone Hughes Trust Fund for funding this project.

Author information


  1. British Dental Association, Policy and Research, 64 Wimpole Street, London, W1G 8YS

    • E. O'Selmo
    • , V. Collin
    •  & P. Whitehead


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Corresponding author

Correspondence to E. O'Selmo.

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