A cross‐sectional analysis of patient care pathways and profiles in a dental emergency department

  • Guivarc'H Maud
  • Saliba‐serre Bérengère
  • Le Coz Pierre
  • Bukiet Frederic

  • Dental care
  • Emergency department
  • Health services accessibility
  • Pain


Introduction: Hospital dental emergency (DE) departments are assumed to improve access to emergency care. Patients use these facilities at night and during weekends, mainly because private care is not available at these times. However, motivation for using hospital care during office hours remain unclear. This study aimed to investigate the characteristics and care pathways of patients consulting a DE department during office hours and to identify the profiles of DE department users. Methods: A descriptive cross-sectional study was performed in the DE department of La Timone Hospital (Marseille, France). Structured interviews were conducted with 150 patients. The interview guide explored sociodemographic data, dental care behaviour, characteristics of the emergency visit, care pathway and follow-up. Descriptive statistics and a multiple correspondence analysis were used for statistical analysis of the data collected. Results: The main motivation for seeking care was pain (76%), and 59.3% of the patients attended the DE department as a first intention. The main reasons for coming to the hospital were trust in hospital practitioners (42%) and convenience of care accessibility (40.1%). Two contrasting profiles of patients were identified: young patients with a low income (regular users of DE departments, seeking acute pain relief); and elderly patients (infrequent users of DE departments, seeking follow-up care). Conclusion: This study highlighted that hospitals can be a primary pathway to DE care even though private care may be available. However, serious limitations regarding the continuity of care in the hospital exist, regardless of patient profile.