Objectives To explore which organisational aspects are considered most important by patients when assessing a general dental practice, and which patients' characteristics influence their views on these aspects by a paper questionnaire. Parti-cipants The questionnaire was handed out to a sample of 5,000 patients in the Netherlands. Results The response rate was 63%. Six organisational aspects out of a list of 41 aspects were valued as most important by at least 50%. In decreasing order of importance, these were: accessibility by telephone; continuing education for general dental practitioners; Dutch-speaking general dental practitioners; in-office waiting times; information about treatments offered; and waiting lists. For four out of these six aspects, respondents' age and education significantly influenced their preferences. Conclusions Aspects concerning the infrastructure of a general dental practice were chosen more often than aspects such as working to professional standards, working according to protocols and guidelines, quality assessment and guaranteed treatment outcomes. The findings will enable organisations to increase the transparency of health-care delivery systems to focus on those organisational aspects of dental practices that patients themselves consider most important. These findings can also assist general dental practitioners in adapting their organisational services to the preferences of patients or specific patient groups.
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