Introduction: In view of transparency in health care, the widespread desire for more patient-centred care, and in an attempt to facilitate educational programmes that effectively respond to these changes, two research questions are formulated: (i) How do dental students rate the importance of various organisational aspects of dental practices compared with dental patients and general dental practitioners (GDPs), and what prescripts, defined as specific operational responsibilities of GDPs in these matters, do dental students propose? and (ii) In doing so, do students resemble patients or GDPs? Methods: In two survey studies, dental students (n = 198), patients (n = 3127) and GDPs (n = 303) were asked to rate by questionnaire the importance of 41 organisational aspects of a general dental practice and proposed specific operational responsibilities ('prescripts'). Results: Seven of 41 aspects were rated as important by the majority of the students. Although in a different rank order, three aspects were predominantly selected by all three groups: continuing education, accessibility by telephone and Dutch-speaking GDP. For most aspects, significant differences were found between the prescripts proposed by students and those proposed by patients, and few differences were found between students and GDPs. Conclusion: The findings do not permit the general conclusion that the views of dental students resemble those of patients or GPDs. Looking at the overall rank order, the three respondent groups showed a great resemblance although significant differences were found for specific aspects. With regard to the proposed prescripts, students showed realistic views and the majority wants to participate in continuing education and work with protocols and guidelines. In this, they tend to resemble GDPs more than they resemble patients.
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