Dr Anwen Cope

Research Associate

School of Dentistry

Email:
copea1@cardiff.ac.uk
Telephone:
+44 (0)29 2074 6553
Location:
University Dental Hospital, Heath Park, Cardiff, CF14 4XY

I am a Specialty Trainee and Honorary Lecturer in Dental Public Health. I split my time between the NHS and research. I currently hold a Clinical Research Time Award from Health and Care Research Wales.

I am a health services researcher. My current research projects relate to the use of antibiotics in the management of dental problems in primary care; dental consultations in general medical practice; shared decision making in dentistry, and the use of skill-mix in the dental team.

Master of Public Health (Distinction). Cardiff University, 2018

Doctor of Philosophy (Medicine). Cardiff University, 2015. Thesis Title: Understanding the use of antibiotics for acute dental condition in primary care in the UK.

Diploma of Membership of the Joint Dental Faculties. Royal College of Surgeons of England, 2013

Bachelor of Dental Surgery, First Class Honours. Cardiff University, 2009

Honours and awards

TC White Lecture Award, Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow (2017)

Roger Anderson Poster Prize, British Association for the Study of Community Dentistry (2015, 2017)

TC White Young Researcher Award, Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow (2015)

Professional memberships

Full registration with the General Dental Council

Academic positions

2015 – present: Specialty Trainee and Hon. Lecturer in Dental Public Health, Cardiff and Vale University Health Board.

2014 – 2015: Post-doctoral Clinical Research Fellow in Dental Public Health, School of Dentistry, Cardiff University

I am involved in the delivery of teaching and assessment in Dental Public Health to undergraduate BDS students.

Highlighted Projects

PRIDA - Patient Recall Decision Aid Study

Many patients visit their dentist every 6 months for a check-up. However, this may not be the best use of patients’ time and money, or NHS resources. In 2004, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommended that the time between dental check-ups should be tailored for each patient, based on how likely they were to develop diseases such as tooth decay, gum disease, or oral cancer. This guidance said that there was no longer a need for many patients to attend every 6 months and that for adult patients who were at low risk of developing dental disease, the time between check-ups could be increased up to a maximum of 24 months. Since the time between check-ups depends on a patients’ risk of developing disease, we call this ‘risk-based recall’.

However, over a decade on from the publication of the NICE guidance, 80% of adult NHS dental patients still go for check-ups every 6-8 months. This is a problem because the resources spent on check-ups for low-risk patients who attend too regularly could be better used to provide care for people who have struggled to get a dentist for a long time or who have toothache. This has been identified as a priority by the Welsh Government, which is one of the reasons why we are undertaking this research.

We would like to develop a ‘decision aid’ which will support patients and dentists to reach a decision together about what is the best length of time between dental check-ups for a particular patient. 

This project has 3 parts.

Part 1 will explore the attitudes of dentists and patients to risk-based recall. We want to understand the reasons why dentists are not currently following the NICE guidance, and what patients consider to be the most important factors when making a decision regarding the time between dental check-ups.

In Part 2 we will design the decision aid. This will be a paper-based tool which will outline the risks and benefits of 6-monthly recalls vs. longer gaps between check-ups. The decision aid will be developed with input from practicing dentists and patients. We aim to create a product which could be used during check-ups in dental practices.

In Part 3 we will do a small test of the decision aid with dentists and dental patients. We will collect information that will help us understand whether it is possible to run a larger, more robust study of the decision aid in the future. We will also interview dentists and patients to understand how user-friendly the decision aid is, and how they see it being used in practice.

This research involves investigators from Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, Cardiff University (Schools of Dentistry and Medicine), Public Health Wales, dental practices and patient and public involvement representatives.

It has been funded by a Research for Patient and Public Benefit Grant from Health and Care Research Wales.

What are the reasons patients consult a General Medical Practitioner when experiencing a dental problem?

Every year in the UK, approximately 380,000 patients will consult their general medical practitioner (GMP) due to a dental problem. Despite this substantial burden of dental consultations in general medical practice, there has been little investigation of the reasons why patients consult a GMP when experiencing problems with their teeth and gums.

The aim of this study was therefore to explore patients’ reasons for consulting a GMP rather than a dentist when experiencing a dental problem. Thirty nine adult participants who had consulted a UK GMP due to a dental problem in the previous year were recruited to take part in a semi-structured qualitative interview study.

Findings of the study indicate that consultation behaviour is influenced by patients’ interpretation of their symptoms and expectations of care; what they perceive primary care practitioners scope of practice to be; their previous experiences of dental care, including dental anxiety and dissatisfaction with prior treatment; the costs associated with dental care; and the comparative ease of navigating medical and dental care systems. As such, choice of healthcare provider during episodes of dental problems can be considered as arising from an interaction between patients’ personal characteristics, characteristics of the healthcare system in which they are seeking care, and the context in which this process is occurring. 

Watch a YouTube video explaining the results of the study

This study was funded by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow.