Patient death and bereavement: what is the dentist's role?


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The dentist's role following a patient's death has not been examined to date; neither has the attrition rate of a dental practice because of deaths of patients belonging to that practice. This topic was explored through a survey of 400 Oregon dentists. Seventy‐two percent of dentists in active practice who participated in the survey had at least one patient death each year; the mean number of patient deaths per year was five. Following these deaths, most dentists reported providing some type of emotional support to the bereaved survivors. Dentists send sympathy cards 72% of the time and attend funerals 27% of the time; 55% of dentists regard the majority of their patient deaths as unexpected. These deaths are a source of emotional stress for dentists, as are subsequent discussions with survivors. Only 3% of the respondents reported having received formal education in death and bereavement, and 66% of dentists believe that some type of education in dying and bereavement should be included in dental school

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)198-200
Number of pages3
JournalSpecial Care in Dentistry
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1988

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dentistry(all)


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