Axel Kutschke1,2,3, Bilsan Ahmad4, Birgitta Häggman-Henrikson2,5, Anders Wänman5, Justin Durham6,7, Anna Lövgren5

1 Department of Clinical Oral Physiology, Folktandvården Gävleborg AB, Gävle, Sweden
2 Department of Orofacial Pain and Jaw Function, Faculty of Odontology, Malmö University, Malmö, Sweden
3 Centre for Research and Development, Uppsala University/Region Gävleborg, Sweden
4 GmbH, Frankfurt/Main, Germany
5 Department of Odontology, Clinical Oral Physiology, Faculty of Medicine, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden
6 School of Dental Sciences, Newcastle University, Newcastle, UK
7 Newcastle Hospitals’ NHS Foundation Trust, Newcastle, UK

Background: Psychosocial screening is an important part of the assessment of patients with chronic pain. Currently, extensive analogue questionnaires are used to assess the degree of such comorbidity. Digital alternatives for questionnaires may be cost-effective and resource-saving if well-accepted by patients.

Aim: To evaluate how patients perceive digital psychosocial screening in dentistry.

Method: Using a qualitative approach, individual semi-structured interviews were conducted with a purposive sample of adult patients (n=16) recruited from orofacial pain specialist dental clinics in Umeå and Gävle. In preparation for the study, pilot-testing of the software had been conducted. All patients completed first the analogue and then the digital version of the questionnaires before the interviews. A flexible topic guide and a mind map were used to allow a structured but evolving open-ended approach to the interviews. The interviews were transcribed and analysed with Qualitative Content Analysis.


The preliminary analysis of patients’ experience revealed two categories:

  • Perceptions about health shape patients’ initial expectations of dental care; but with deeper understanding, patients value the incorporation of a holistic approach that includes psychosocial factors.
  • Digital screening is perceived as a reliable, meaningful and environmentally sustainable method.

Conclusion: In general, patients appreciate a holistic approach in dentistry and understand the value of psychosocial screening as part of this. From the patients’ perspective, digital psychosocial screening is well accepted and can be introduced into daily dental practice.