Technical Overview

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.


Withdrawal information for participants


Taking part is voluntary and you are free to withdraw at any time without giving a reason and your care, or legal rights, will not be affected. If at any point you decide to stop taking part, you will still get the usual information and treatment given by the dental team. 


If you do stop taking part, we will use any information collected up until the time you stop taking part. However, the study team may need to continue to collect information about any side-effects you may have from taking part in this study.


Your rights to access, change or move your information are limited, as we need to manage your information in specific ways in order for the research to be reliable and accurate. If you withdraw from the study, we will keep the information about you that we already have. To safeguard your rights, we will use the minimum identifiable information possible.

Meet the team

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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.