Willingness of Saudi dental professionals to treat Hepatitis B virus‑infected patients

  • H Khalil
Keywords: Cross infection, dentist, hepatitis virus, vaccination


Background: Hepatitis B virus (HBV) is considered the most important cross‑infection hazard in developing countries. Patients infected with hepatitis virus could encounter difficulties in obtaining dental care. The aim of this study was to investigate the willingness of Saudi dental professionals to treat hepatitis B virus infected patients.
Materials and Methods: This cross‑sectional survey was carried out by distributing 300 questionnaires to Saudi dentists working in 40 government and private dental centers in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The questionnaire included questions related to age, sex, vaccination against HBV, screening for HBV antibody levels, willingness to treat hepatitis B infected patients, and the reasons behind any refusal. A t‑test was used to compare the results and a P < 0.05 was considered significant.
Results: Of the 300 distributed questionnaires, 274 were collected giving a response rate of 91%. The respondents were 212 males (77.4%) and 62 (22.6%) females. Only 10.2% of the Saudi dentists were willing to treat HB infected patients. The other dentists (89.8%) were unwilling to provide dental care for HB infected patients. Although 94.5% of the surveyed dentists were vaccinated against HBV, the main reason behind the refusal to treat HB infected patients (92.3%) was the risk of cross infection.
Conclusion: High percentages of Saudi dentists are unwilling to treat HBV‑infected patients due to their apprehension about risk of cross infection. Many of the Saudi dentists do not screen for HBV antibody levels. All vaccinated dentists should carefully monitor their antibody levels to evaluate the need for booster doses. There is a need for educational programs to change the attitude of dentists toward treating HBV‑infected patients. The strict adoption of cross infection preventive protocols by dentists will reduce the risk of transmitting infectious diseases in dental clinics as identification of blood‑borne infections is not always possible.

Key words: Cross infection, dentist, hepatitis virus, vaccination


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eISSN: 1119-3077