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April 1-7, 2013United Kingdom Edition R ecently a report of the findings of the Annual Patient and Public Sur- vey 2012 was published. It is based on research commis- sioned by the GDC and carried out by Ipsos MORI. This survey followed one done a year earli- er and was designed to find out patient and public awareness of the GDC. As in the previous study, a sample of around 1,600 people in Great Britain and Northern Ireland were inter- viewed face-to-face. This time there were also ten qualitative (qualitative information is typi- cally descriptive rather than numerically based) telephone interviews. The survey produced some interesting findings, one of which I shall explore here. The Executive Summary included this paragraph: The third theme running through the findings is the correlation between social grade and ethnicity, engage- ment with dentistry, and ex- pectations. The results suggest that people from lower social grades and non-white people are less engaged with dentistry in a number of ways. For exam- ple they are less likely to have visited the dentist recently, are likely to visit less often or to have never visited a dentist, feel less fully informed about their treatment*, and are less aware of the GDC. This may in turn negatively affect their expecta- tions of the complaints process and giving feedback. (* a footnote makes the point that the weighted base size of non-white respondents here is under 100.) Later in the report it states: Therefore the GDC may wish to consider communicating more effectively with less-engaged people on one hand, and mak- ing the service and its structures more universally accessible on the other. This could involve re- viewing the style and language ofcommunications,forexample. What impression does your website give? I looked at a random selec- tion of nine websites of private and NHS practices in parts of the Midlands, in London, in the south-west and in Leeds. The overwhelming number of im- ages showed white people as ‘patients’. In fact, I only came across two photos of black peo- ple – one in each of two prac- tices. Where images of a team were shown, two practices in- cluded brown people. Now I fully appreciate that few (probably none) of these images were of actual patients. To include photographs of pa- tients is difficult and potentially expensive as you need their written consent and a profes- sional photographer. Very like- ly, the images are from stock photography and may well have been chosen by the website de- sign company. Does this mean there are not many stock photographs of smiling, happy-looking black and brown people available? I looked at a popular stock pho- tography website www.shut- and searched for ‘black people happy’. It yielded more than 180,000 results and included individuals, pairs and groups of black people of both genders in casual and formal attire, in a variety of poses, all smiling and with different backgrounds or none. Searches for ‘brown people happy’ and ‘Asian people happy’ yielded a similar variety of images but fewer at around 100,000. Of course, you wouldn’t necessar- ily want to portray only people of one particular ethnic back- ground or skin colour on your website so I then searched for ‘mixed ethnic happy people’. This produced nearly 10,000 images. There are also stock agencies that specialise in multi-ethnic images – such as Think twice before using stock images Before you reach for the stock photo website to change your images, hear my arguments against using stock photogra- phy! Royalty-free stock photog- raphy is always easy to identify because the people are invari- ably smiling (in a sort of gritted teeth way) and have adopted unnatural poses. The same images appear on many web- sites – more than 1,000 in some cases – so your website loses its unique appeal. Let’s consider your team. Assuming you have good re- cruitment policies, you will have engaged people from the local community regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, religion and age. They should therefore represent a small cross-section of your local community and the potential patients within it. In which case, what could be better than showing images of your team? Doing so has addi- tional bonuses – patients meet people with whom they are al- ready familiar visually and such images show pride in your staff and their pleasure in working for your practice. Do images on websites matter? How much does showing ‘pa- tients’ of a mix of ethnicity re- ally affect attitudes to a dental practice? This is clearly going to be difficult to answer. I’ll start by quoting a recent article by Bim Adewunmi in the New Statesman online. Under the headline ‘Melanin without to- kenism: black people are slowly being allowed to be normal on TV’ she pointed out that: ‘Sains- bury’s has a black family with the little boy doing the dishes to the surprise of his parents, and Tesco’s campaign also makes use of another, sipping on champagne in the kitchen on Are you missing out on potential patients? Results of the Patient and Public Survey 2012 showed people from lower social grades and non- white people are less engaged with dentistry. Amanda Atkin considers why Design by DentistsTM Design by DentistsTM The light cure matrix fixation FenderMate Fix laterally supports FenderMate in case of larger boxes. Excellent results with minimal finishing required. Now, FenderMate is the choice for most situations! N E W To be used with FenderMate in case of very wide cavities DISTRIBUTED IN THE UK BY TRYCARE TEL. 01274-88 55 44 DIRECTA AB Design By DentistsTM P.O. 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