OBJECTIVE : To investigate how differences in socio-economic
position (SEP) influence satisfaction with dental
services among South Africans.
METHODS : Data collected from a nationally representative
sample of the South African population ≥16 years old
(n=3,112) included socio-demographics, health insurance
enrolment, past-year dental visit and facility type (public or
private), satisfaction and reason(s) for dissatisfaction with
the dental services received. Using structural equation
modelling, a pathway to satisfaction with dental services
was tested using a number of model fit statistics.
RESULT : Of the 15.1% (n=540) who had visited a dentist in
the past-year, 54.1% (n=312) were satisfied with the services
received. Reasons for dissatisfaction included long
waiting time (33.1%), painful procedure (13%) and rude
staff (10.4%). Being of higher SEP was associated with reporting
using private facility. Those who visited public facilities
were more likely to have encountered a long waiting
time, which in turn was associated with being more likely
to report treatment as having been painful and reporting
dissatisfaction. Long waiting times had the greatest direct
effect on dental service dissatisfaction (β = -0.31).
CONCLUSION : Improving waiting time is likely to be the major
factor to help reduce socio-economic disparities in the
quality of dental services experienced by South Africans.