Factors influencing dentists’ willingness to treat Medicaid-enrolled adolescents
Chi, Donald L.
Kateeb, Elham T.
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Objectives: To identify factors influencing dentists’ willingness to treat Medicaid-enrolled adolescents with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Washington state. Data sources: Primary data were collected by a survey instrument administered in 2017 to general and pediatric dentists who were Medicaid providers (N = 512). Methods: We administered a 40-item survey, which included 20 hypothetical scenarios involving a 12-year-old Medicaid-enrolled adolescent. Based on the characteristics of the potential patient, dentists were asked to rate their willingness to treat (1 = very likely; 5 = very unlikely). We used conjoint analytic techniques to examine the relative importance of six adolescent- and family-level factors (e.g., severity of intellectual and/or developmental disability [IDD], sugar intake, toothbrushing, caregiver beliefs about fluoride, restorative needs, appointment keeping) and state Medicaid reimbursement level (35 percent, 55 percent, 85 percent of usual, customary, and reasonable amount). Analyses focused on data from 178 dentists with complete and varied responses to the scenarios. Results: The mean age of participants was 53.8 ± 10.5 years and 10.7 percent were pediatric dentists. The holdouts correlation statistics indicated excellent fit for the conjoint model (Pearson’s R = 0.99, P < 0.0001; Kendall’s tau = 0.89, P < 0.0001). Reimbursement level and appointment keeping were the most important factors in dentists’ willingness to treat Medicaid-enrolled adolescents (importance scores of 26.7 and 25.7, respectively). Restorative needs, caregiver beliefs about fluoride, and IDD severity were the next most important (importance scores of 15.4, 10.6, and 8.1, respectively). Sugar intake and toothbrushing behaviors were the least important. Conclusions: Reimbursement and appointment keeping were the most important determinants of dentists’ willingness to treat Medicaid-enrolled adolescents with IDD.