Identifying Strategies to Improve Oral Health Workforce Resilience

Oral health clinicians are exposed to stressful work conditions including demanding workloads, time pressures, financial concerns related to practice ownership, challenging workflows, treating difficult patients, and the physical demands of performing oral procedures, among others. The COVID-19 pandemic has worsened these stressors and negatively impacted the mental health and well-being of the workforce, increasing the risk of poorer mental health outcomes, including depression, anxiety, and stress. Oral health clinicians are particularly affected due to their increased risk of contracting the virus through respiratory aerosols and spatter during dental procedures, limited access to personal protective equipment, layoffs and furloughs, and financial challenges occasioned by dental office closures. Recent national studies among oral health clinicians found increased levels of psychological distress.

This study will examine the issues of stress and burnout among oral health providers during the COVID-19 pandemic. In collaboration with CareQuest (formerly DentaQuest), OHWRC researchers will conduct surveys and/or interviews with key informants from major oral health provider organizations (ie, American Dental Association [ADA], American Dental Hygienists Association [ADHA], American Dental Assistants Association [ADAA], National Network of Oral Health Access [NNOHA], Association of Dental Support Organization [ADSO], among others) to learn more about the levels of and contributing factors to clinician burnout as well as the strategies used to promote resilience.