Shows that GDPs exhibit the highest levels of stress and burnout among UK dentists.
Shows that levels of productivity stress are higher among GDPs practising NHS treatment.
Suggests that practice ownership does not moderate the relationship between patient-led stress and burnout.
Suggests that practice ownership does positively moderate the association between regulatory stress and burnout.
Dentistry is well documented as a stressful profession. The majority of UK dentists work in general practice, which can carry multiple sources of stress. Previous research has acknowledged the propensity of these sources of stress for general dental practitioners (GDPs) when undertaking clinical, administrative and managerial tasks. The results of these accumulative stress sources can lead to burnout among GDPs. Understanding the environmental drivers of stress is an important step in high, and in some reported cases, unsustainable levels of stress and burnout.
To investigate the key dimensions of stress among GDPs and to model causality between these stress subdimensions and burnout as an outcome. To further identify the moderating influence of dentistry type (NHS, private) and performer type (practice owner, associate, corporate associate).
Materials and methods
The data are drawn from an online survey of UK dentists comprising BDA members and non-members. A total of 1513 GDP responses were used in the final analysis. The analysis was conducted using structural equation modelling.
We identify four subdimensions of stress in general dentistry; productivity stress, work content stress, patient-led stress and regulatory stress. Each dimension of stress is shown to have a significant causal link to burnout among the GDP population. While burnout levels among this population are already in excess of accepted thresholds, we find that stress is further elevated in specific areas of dentistry type and when performer type is considered.
This study contributes across three main areas. First, stress dimensions in general dental practice are identified. Second, these dimensions are shown to have a causal relationship with burnout. Third, specific cases of general dentistry are shown to elevate already problematic areas of stress among GDPs.
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Thank you to the BDA Trust and the Shirley Glasstone Hughes Trust for funding this research, and all of those who participated.