Study Finds Dentists Underdiagnose When Placed Under Time Constraints

Dentist looking at watch.

When faced with time pressure, dentists can miss important details on radiographs and underdiagnose, according to research led by the University of Plymouth Peninsula Dental School in the United Kingdom. Published in the Journal of Dentistry, the study, “Impact of Time Pressure on Dentists’ Diagnostic Performance,” found that primary care dentists missed 67% of bone loss and 40% of lesions on a sample set of radiographs when given time restrictions. However, when not faced with time pressure, the 40 study participants diagnosed correctly, on average, all pathologies related to bone loss and caries.

The subjects, all in dental practice in and around southwest England, were randomized to examine and provide a radiographic report on two sets of radiographs, with six bitewings in each set. When asked to rate their stress levels, the participants indicated significantly more stress in the time pressure situation than in testing without time constraints.


From Decisions in Dentistry. May 2019;5(5):9.

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