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October 2021

J Orofac Pain. 1998 Winter; 12(1): 61-6.

Treatment-seeking patterns of facial pain patients: many possibilities, limited satisfaction.

Türp JC, Kowalski CJ, Stohler CS.

Department of Biologic and Materials Sciences, School of Dentistry, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor 48109-1078, USA.

Knowledge about the different kinds of treatment provided to patients with nonmalignant musculoskeletal facial pain is limited. The present study was based on 206 consecutive patients who were referred to a university-based tertiary care clinic for the diagnosis and management of persistent facial pain. Its purpose was to get information about the number and specialty of providers consulted by patients prior to their referral, and to follow the underlying treatment-seeking patterns. The results showed that on average 4.88 providers from 44 different categories were consulted. A general dentist or a dental specialist was seen by about 70% of patients. For patients whose first provider was a dentist, the most likely subsequent provider was another dentist. Conversely, if the first provider was a physician, chances were greater that the subsequent provider was a physician rather than a dentist. Among the nondental therapies patients received, physical therapy was chosen most frequently (42.2%). More than 60% of patients had at least one nondental treatment; however, the majority of these patients experienced two or more different types of such therapy (e.g., chiropractic, osteopathic, relaxation training). Patients' satisfaction with care and treatment was moderate, since only 18.5% of the patients were very satisfied, while 27.7% were dissatisfied or very dissatisfied. The present findings, which corroborate a recent study from the Kansas City, Missouri, region, indicate that patients with persistent facial pain see a large number of different providers, and that nonmedical/nondental treatment approaches are common. The moderate satisfaction experienced with any of the therapies points out that much needs to be done before this patient population is served satisfactorily.

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