Tobacco use adversely affects oral health. Clinical guidelines recommend that dental providers promote tobacco abstinence and provide patients who use tobacco with brief tobacco use cessation counselling. Research shows that these guidelines are seldom implemented, however. To improve guideline adherence and to develop effective interventions, it is essential to understand provider behaviour and challenges to implementation. This study aimed to develop a theoretically informed measure for assessing among dental providers implementation difficulties related to tobacco use prevention and cessation (TUPAC) counselling guidelines, to evaluate those difficulties among a sample of dental providers, and to investigate a possible underlying structure of applied theoretical domains.
A 35-item questionnaire was developed based on key theoretical domains relevant to the implementation behaviours of healthcare providers. Specific items were drawn mostly from the literature on TUPAC counselling studies of healthcare providers. The data were collected from dentists (n = 73) and dental hygienists (n = 22) in 36 dental clinics in Finland using a web-based survey. Of 95 providers, 73 participated (76.8%). We used Cronbach's alpha to ascertain the internal consistency of the questionnaire. Mean domain scores were calculated to assess different aspects of implementation difficulties and exploratory factor analysis to assess the theoretical domain structure. The authors agreed on the labels assigned to the factors on the basis of their component domains and the broader behavioural and theoretical literature.
Internal consistency values for theoretical domains varied from 0.50 ('emotion') to 0.71 ('environmental context and resources'). The domain environmental context and resources had the lowest mean score (21.3%; 95% confidence interval [CI], 17.2 to 25.4) and was identified as a potential implementation difficulty. The domain emotion provided the highest mean score (60%; 95% CI, 55.0 to 65.0). Three factors were extracted that explain 70.8% of the variance: motivation (47.6% of variance, a = 0.86), capability (13.3% of variance, a = 0.83), and opportunity (10.0% of variance, a = 0.71).
This study demonstrated a theoretically informed approach to identifying possible implementation difficulties in TUPAC counselling among dental providers. This approach provides a method for moving from diagnosing implementation difficulties to designing and evaluating interventions.
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