How dentists account for social responsibility: economic imperatives and professional obligations.

Shafik Dharamsi, Daniel D. Pratt, Michael I. MacEntee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


This study explores how dentists explain the concept of social responsibility and its relationship to issues affecting access to oral health care by vulnerable segments of the population. Analysis of open-ended interviews with thirty-four dentists, including dental educators, and administrators and officials of dental public health programs in Canada and the United States revealed that four main themes-economics, professionalism, individual choice, and politics-influenced the respondents' sense of social responsibility in dentistry. There was a belief that social responsibility in dentistry is dominated by economic imperatives that impact negatively on the policies and practices directing access to care. Yet, despite the highly critical stance on dentistry as a business, there was practical recognition of the economic realities of dental practice. Nevertheless, those who focused on social responsibility as a professional obligation highlighted the privileges of self-governance along with the accompanying duty to serve the welfare of everyone and not just those who are socioeconomically advantaged.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1583-1592
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Dental Education
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2007


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