The study is divided into 3 phases.
Phase 1: Qualitative work and intervention development
We have spent around 160 hours observing what happens when people attend at the Liverpool Dental Hospital and NHS dental practices in Merseyside when they have a dental problem. There, we have spoken to 97 people, some of them more than once, who had a dental problem, sometimes for a few days and sometimes for weeks. We wanted to get a good idea about the reasons why people put off going to the dentist, and what might help them. We also asked them to help us understand what they think could help others, like their friends or family.
This has helped us design the intervention materials, which talk about the reasons why people put off going to the dentist, and what others have found helped them in getting back to a dentist. We have then shown the materials to lots of local people who have helped us to shape it into something which might be useful.
Phase 2: Feasibility study
We will be recruiting 60 people in 3 centres in Merseyside. They will be asked if they want to take part in the study when they attend for urgent dental care and will be given more information about it. Half of the people joining the study will receive the intervention material and half will just have their care as usual. People will be randomly allocated to receive the intervention material or not. Everyone will be followed up 4 months later to find out if they have been to the dentist since, when they didn’t have a problem.
Phase 3: Randomised controlled trial
If Phase 2 is successful, we will go on to do a full Randomised Controlled Trial in more NHS dental practices across Merseyside. We will be recruiting 1,088 patients in total and following them up to see whether they visited a dentist when they didn’t have a problem. We will follow them up for 2 years.
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This study/project is funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) [PGfAR project reference RP-PG-0616-20004]. The views expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the NIHR or the Department of Health and Social Care.