Knowledge of Physicians about the Interrelationship between Diabetes Mellitus and Periodontitis in the United Arab Emirates
Tawfik, Abdel R
Khamis, Amar Hassan
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Objective: Diabetes mellitus is a major cause of morbidity in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), highlighting a significant social and economic burden impacting the development of the country. Studies have shown a bidirectional relationship between diabetes and periodontal disease. The awareness of this relationship is imperative not only for dentists but also for the physicians who contribute toward enhancing a diabetic patient’s health and lifestyle. There is a general need to highlight the importance of maintaining periodontal health and its positive effect on controlling diabetic health status. The purpose of this study is to investigate the knowledge of the physicians regarding diabetes and periodontal health. Materials and Methods: A cross-sectional study involving a questionnaire was distributed to the physicians who were attending the Arab Health Conference in Dubai in 2019. Statistical Analyses: A cross-tabulation analysis compared attitude, knowledge, and awareness across sector, gender, and country of graduation. A logistic regression model was used to explain the “knowledge” regarding possible confounding factors. Results: A total of 344 physicians with an average age of 38.11 (9.31) years, comprising of 186 (53.8%) males, participated in the survey. Of those participants, 285 (82.8%) were working in the government sector health care centers versus the private health care organizations. Also, 108 (31.4%) of the participants graduated within the universities based in the UAE, while the remaining 263 (68.6%) participants graduated from medical schools from other countries. At least 265 (77%) of the participants had positive outlook toward referring patients with diabetes to their dental colleagues, while 283 (82.3%) of the physicians acknowledge that diabetes affects periodontal health. While a majority of participants 261 (76%) treat diabetic patients in their clinical practice, only 50 (19%) of the participants admit to referring these patients for a dental consultation. In addition, the survey also revealed that 225 (65.5%) physicians comprehend the bidirectional relationship of periodontal disease and diabetes. Conclusion: An appropriate dental referral protocol is recommended for all diabetic patients who visit physicians. This survey demonstrated that although the physicians present with good knowledge, they rarely refer diabetic patients to receive proper periodontal care.