Research Focus Areas

Research conducted in the Department is aimed at stimulating, informing and educating the dental profession by means of appropriate and relevant research in view of the SA market’s unique and specific needs in terms of management, leadership, communication, ethics and patient care. As a result, the Department’s research outputs focus on the following:

  • Dental student perceptions on Practice Management: a study of second, third, fourth and final year dental students at the University of Pretoria’s perceptions with regard to Dental Practice Management as subject in an undergraduate curriculum as well as their career expectations.
  • Dentist’ perceptions about strategic management of a dental practice: a survey about the perceived influence of the external environment on the strategic management of a dental practice.
  • Leadership: dental practitioners are being challenged by a whole host of outside pressures and forces. The new generation dentist should have a clear understanding about the difference between management & leadership. The emerging oral healthcare environment and traditional ways of thinking are mutually exclusive. Innovative thinking is required as accelerating change, increasing complexity, intensifying competition and expanding consumerism will be characteristic of the 21st century. As a result, the dentist as leader has become a significant role player to ensure that the dental profession remains sustainable, viable, accessible and affordable. 
  • Practice management strategies in a competitive SA dental environment: investigation of strategies to counter political, economic, technological and social forces in the external environment in order to enhance the viability of a typical SA dental practice through excellence, uniqueness, differentiation and competitiveness.
  • The role of communication in addressing the challenges of increasing consumerism in the 21st century in the health and dental industry: patients are becoming more demanding and have high expectations of oral health care practitioners. The relationship between dentist and patient has as a result become essential. 
  • Managed dental care: implications for the dental practitioner in SA as well as practitioners’ willingness to accept a capitation fee for dental services: the viability of a dental practice is dependent on the number of patients demanding oral health care. Affordability of oral health care, on the other hand, is crucial to the patient: capitation is an attempt to close the gap between these two seemingly conflicting ends on a continuum. 
  • The dramatic decline in the value of the Rand and the impact on the costs of materials and viability of a SA dental practice:  the dramatic decline in the value of the rand has a detrimental impact on the cost of imported dental materials and equipment.
  • The decline in medical funds’ pay-out towards dentistry and the impact on dentistry in SA:  investigation of strategies to convert a practice from a practice dependent on dental insurance to a practice independent on dental insurance: medical schemes’ benefits are not conducive to the viability of a dental practice. As a result, the dentist should focus on his/her treatment plan presentation skills in order to convert the patient’s need into a demand for oral health care.
  • The role of service quality (SQ) in the promotion of a dental practice:  the modern patient shows the characteristics of a typical consumer. SQ plays a vital role to build the image/reputation/brand of a practice.
  • The important role of the oral hygienist (OH) in the productivity of a SA dental practice:  the role of the OH to ensure the viability of a dental practice is underestimated. The OH’s role is to educate the patient in terms of what the dental profession can offer in terms of the patient’s self-image and self-confidence.
  • Interacting forces influencing private dental practice in South Africa: implications for dental education:  dental practitioners are being challenged by a whole host of outside pressures and forces. Dental schools in SA should, as a matter of urgency, take cognisance of the changing external environment. While the training in SA dental schools continues to not reflect the changes in the external environment, dental practitioners will not succeed in practising comprehensive dentistry characterised by professionalism, business-, entrepreneurial- and communication skills. 
  • Ethics & Jurisprudence:  investigation regarding complaints laid against oral health care professionals and employment of risk management strategies to manage and prevent complaints.
  • Health Services Research:  researching the demand for public health services, service delivery outcomes as well as the determinants of the public’s perceptions about the ethical and professional behaviour of public and private oral health care practitioners.
  • Dental Education: research about the following dental educational issues: curriculum development; development of clinical reasoning; management of cognitive load; integration; the link between the basic medical sciences and the clinical sciences; student support.

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