Understanding Pediatric Dentists’ Dental Caries Management Treatment Decisions: A Conjoint Experiment
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When traditional ranking and rating surveys are used to assess dentists’ treatment decisions, the patient’s source of payment appears to be of little importance. Therefore, this study used the marketing research tool conjoint analysis to investigate the relative impact of source of payment along with the child’s age and cooperativeness on pediatric dentists’ willingness to use Atraumatic Restorative Treatment (ART) to restore posterior primary teeth. A conjoint survey was completed by 707 pediatric dentists. Three factors (age of the child, cooperativeness, type of insurance) were varied across 3 levels to create 9 patient scenarios. The relative weights that dentists placed on these factors in the restorative treatment decision process were determined by conjoint analysis. “Cooperativeness” (52%) was the most important factor, “age of the child” (26%) the second-most important factor, followed by “insurance status of the child” (22%). For the third factor, insurance, pediatric dentists were least willing to use ART with publicly insured children (–0.082), and this was significantly different from their willingness to use ART with uninsured children (0.010) but not significantly different than their willingness to use ART for children with private insurance (0.073). Unlike traditional ranking and rating tools, conjoint analysis found that the insurance status of the patient appeared to be an important factor in dentists’ decisions about different restorative treatment options. When pediatric dentists were forced to make tradeoffs among different patients’ factors, they were most willing to use ART technique with young, uncooperative patients when they had no insurance.