Arch Hellen Med, 32(2), March-April 2015, 194-201
The effects of the economic crisis on dental care in Cyprus: The opinion of the dentists
C. Charalambous,1 M. Theodorou,1 P. Galanis2
OBJECTIVE To investigate the views of dentists in the public and private sectors about the impact of the economic crisis on the dental profession and the provision of dental care in Cyprus.
METHOD A cross sectional study was conducted with the use of a questionnaire, specially designed after extensive literature review. The questionnaire was distributed via e-mail to a sample of 300 dentists in Cyprus, randomly selected from the public and private sector. The response rate was 51%, as 153 questionnaires were completed, 129 of which were from the private and 24 from the public sector.
RESULTS In the private sector, 61 of the dentists (47.7%) stated that in 2013 their daily number of patients was less than in previous years, and 52 (40.6%) that the figures remained stable. In contrast, 18 (75%) of the dentists in the public sector stated that the number of patients increased and 4 (16.7%) that it remained stable (p<0.001). A negative correlation was observed between the years of service and the daily number of patients (rs=-0.46, p<0.001). Private dentists also reported a reduction in the demand for high cost dental treatment such as prosthetic and orthodontic work and implants. As a result of these reductions, 104 private dentists (81.3%) stated that their income decreased in 2013 compared to previous years. The decline in income was a source of anxiety for dentists in both the private (71.3%) and the public sector (75%). In the public sector, 13 dentists (68.4%) stated that they felt a fair or moderate level of stress from the increasing number of patients. Both groups of dentists reported that their patients in 2013 were usually visiting the dentist for emergency dental problems, and 61 (49.2%) of the private dentists that the reason for visiting a dentist had changed. Finally, 66 (51.2%) of private dentists and 6 (25.1%) of dentists in the public sector reported that the quality of services provided in 2013 was better than in the past (p=0.038).
CONCLUSIONS These findings indicate that the economic crisis has already had a negative impact on dental care in Cyprus, which is provided mostly by the private sector, as evidenced by a reduced frequency of dental visits, visits only for emergency problems and selection of less costly forms of treatment. Appropriate measures need to be taken in order to avoid negative consequences on the oral health of the citizens of Cyprus.
Key words: Cyprus, Dental care, Dentists, Economic crisis.