Patient-centered communication: Exploring the dentist's role in the era of e-patients and health 2.0

B. Seymour, H. Yang, R. Getman, J. Barrow, E. Kalenderian

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


In today's digital era, people are increasingly relying on the Internet-including social media- to access health information and inform their health decisions. This article describes an exploratory initiative to better understand and define the role of dentists in patient education in the context of e-patients and Health 2.0. This initiative consisted of four phases. In Phase I, an interdisciplinary expert advisory committee was assembled for a roundtable discussion about patients' health information-seeking behaviors online. In Phase II, a pilot case study was conducted, with methods and analysis informed by Phase I recommendations. Phase III consisted of a debriefing conference to outline future areas of research on modernizing health communication strategies. In Phase IV, the findings and working theories were presented to 75 dental students, who then took a survey regarding their perspectives with the objective of guiding potential curriculum design for predoctoral courses. The results of the survey showed that the validity of online content was often secondary to the strength of the network sharing it and that advocacy online could be more effective if it allowed for emotional connections with peers rather than preserving accuracy of the information. Students expressed high interest in learning how to harness modern health communications in their clinical care since the role of the dentist is evolving from giving information to giving personalized guidance against the backdrop of an often contradictory modern information environment. The authors recommend that the dental profession develop patient-centered health communication training for predoctoral students and professional development and continuing education for practicing professionals.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)697-704
JournalJournal of Dental Education
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2016
Externally publishedYes


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