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Interprofessional diabetes and oral health management: What do primary healthcare professionals think?

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journal contribution
posted on 2021-05-01, 00:00 authored by P Lau, A Tran, M Chen, E Boyce, R Martin, Hanny CalacheHanny Calache
Background: Diabetes and periodontitis have a bi-directional relationship. And yet, collaborations between primary healthcare practitioners in diabetes and oral health care are minimal. This study explored the views of general practice and oral health professionals on the link between diabetes and periodontitis, and interprofessional diabetes and oral health management. Methods: A sequential mixed-methods exploratory research design was used. General practice and oral health professionals were recruited from four community health centres in Melbourne. Quantitative surveys explored participants' experiences, attitudes and knowledge of diabetes and oral health management and interprofessional collaboration; qualitative follow-up interviews explored survey responses with selected participants. Results: 58 participants completed the online surveys; 22 then participated in semi-structured interviews. Participants generally had strong intentions to collaborate interprofessionally in diabetes and oral health management. Most general practice and oral health professional participants were willing to perform simple screening for periodontitis or diabetes respectively. Themes from the interviews were grouped under three domains: 'a ttitude towards diabetes and oral health management', 'subjective norms' and 'perceived behavioural control'; and an overarching domain to describe participants' 'current practice'. Existing siloed primary healthcare practices and lack of formal referral pathways contribute to poor interprofessional collaboration. Most participants were unsure of each other's responsibilities and roles. Their lack of training in the relationship between general and oral health, compounded by systemic barriers including time constraint, high dental costs, long public dental waiting list and unintegrated health information systems, also impeded interprofessional care. Conclusions: The diabetes and oral health link is not properly recognised or managed collaboratively by relevant primary healthcare professionals in Australia. There is, nonetheless, strong intentions to engage in interprofessional diabetes and oral health care to contribute to improved patient outcomes. Primary healthcare professionals need dedicated and accredited interprofessional training and competencies, formal referral systems and sustainable health policies to facilitate collaboration.






Article number



1 - 13


F1000 Research


London, Eng







Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal