Success factors and barriers in interprofessional collaboration between dental hygienists and dietitians in community-dwelling older people: Focus group interviews

Authors Vanessa Hollaar, Elke Naumann, Liesbeth Haverkort, Katarina Jerković-Ćosić, Seline Kok, Marian de van der Schueren
Published in International Journal of Dental Hygiene
Publication date 2023
Research groups Innovations in Preventive Care
Type Article


Introduction: Poor nutritional status can impair oral health while poor oral health can influence the individual's dietary intake, which may result in malnutrition. This interaction between nutritional status and oral health in older age requires attention, coordination and collaboration between healthcare professionals. This qualitative study explores dental hygienists' and dietitians' opinions about current collaboration with the aim of identifying success factors and barriers to this interprofessional collaboration. Methods: Three focus group interviews were held with Dutch dental hygienists and dietitians about nutritional and oral healthcare in community-dwelling older people. Results: In total, 9 dietitians and 11 dental hygienists participated in three online focus group interviews. Dental hygienists and dietitians seldom collaborated or consulted with each other. They struggled with the professional boundaries of their field of expertise and experienced limited knowledge about the scope of practice of the other profession, resulting in conflicting information to patients about nutrition and oral health. Interprofessional education was scarce during their professional training. Organizational and network obstacles to collaborate were recognized, such as limitations in time, reimbursement and their professional network that often does not include a dietitian or dental hygienist. Conclusion: Dental hygienists and dietitians do not collaborate or consult each other about (mal)nutrition or oral health in community-dwelling older people. To establish interprofessional collaboration, they need to gain knowledge and skills about nutrition and oral health to effectively recognize problems in nutritional status and oral health. Interprofessional education for healthcare professionals is needed to stimulate interprofessional collaboration to improve care for older people.

On this publication contributed

Language English
Published in International Journal of Dental Hygiene
Key words community-dwelling older people, dental hygienists, dietitians, interprofessional collaboration, malnutrition, oral health
Digital Object Identifier 10.1111/idh.12774

Innovations in Preventive Care