Marty Saperstein addresses the Ohio State Dental Board – May 09, 2018

Marty Saperstein discusses findings from a Dental Specialty Advertising survey recently conducted by his public opinion research company, Saperstein Associates, with the Ohio State Dental Board. The survey captured information from the Ohio public relating to its understanding of specialties in dentistry and the effect that specialty advertising has on the public’s decisions with regard to seeking care, including the choice of provider. This information is of obvious interest to both general dentists and specialists, and also to the ADA and state regulatory boards, including the Ohio State Dental Board, as they examine specialty recognition and advertising issues going forward.

The following is a related excerpt from the minutes recorded during the Ohio State Dental Board meeting on May 9, 2018:

Presentation – Ohio Dental Association
Dental Specialty Advertising

Director Kamdar introduced David Owsiany, J.D. as the Executive Director of the Ohio Dental Association (ODA) who had requested to speak with the Board regarding dental specialty advertising. Mr. Owsiany thanked the Board and distributed copies of his brief presentation on Dental Specialty Advertising [Appendix B] explaining the reason/purpose for the Boards consideration of this matter and indicating that the ODA had commissioned a survey of the general public by Saperstein Associates, Inc. to assist in determining public perception with regards to “specialty” or “specialist”. He explained that the ODA survey supported the rules as drafted for “Option D” of the five (5) versions of the drafted rules that had been discussed and accepted by the Ohio Specialties Education Advisory Group in July 2017 and presented to the Law and Rules Review Committee at that time. He stated that the independent survey performed by the ODA supported the premise that public perception was that a dentist claiming to be a “specialist” had completed an accredited residency program. Mr. Owsiany then introduced Marty Saperstein of Saperstein Associates, Inc. (SAI) to explain the process used for the public survey performed for the ODA [Appendix C].

Mr. Saperstein gave a brief background on himself along with a notable history of organizations that his company has developed and performed surveys for since 1980. He explained that each study performed by SAI is custom-tailored to a specific circumstance, in this instance the questions focused on four (4) areas of dentistry; two (2) of which were of the nine (9) American Dental Association recognized specialties and two (2) of which were not. He stated that a review of the data provided the following about the consumer responses:

• People linked “specialty” to an accredited program;
• They do not know which specific areas of dentistry are considered a “specialty”;
• People linked the notion of “specialty” to a residency program;
• They link the term “specialty” to competence; and
• People link the term to a specific sponsor.

Dr. Anderson questioned whether Mr. Saperstein had asked the people interviewed if they knew where accreditation of dental programs came from and how the 812 people surveyed were selected. Dr. Bauer noted that Mr. Saperstein used the term “competence” rather than “qualified” and commented that there is a perception versus reality with regards to the value of specialty designation to the public. He stated that the term “specialist” carries more weight when a dental practice is seeking the ability to advertise which is not necessarily the truth, however, it perpetuates that perception. Mr. Saperstein commented that all of this was the point of a “confusion study”.

Mr. Owsiany summarized for the members why they were here at this point in time to debate this issue. He stated that the Board is the only entity in Ohio to regulate the practice of dentistry, therefore they know the importance of this decision. He stated that the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) has been evaluated and is accredited by the U.S. Department of Education as the only entity for accrediting graduate dental programs.

Mr. Owsiany reiterated that previous courts have recommended that dental specialty advertising can be misleading which is why this survey was performed. He stated that the ODA survey supports CODA-accredited residency programs as a determining factor for specialty designation. He commented that almost all healthcare specialties require formal training in an accredited institution or program. Mr. Owsiany concluded by stating that Option D of the proposed rules allows the Board to protect the public, defend their position, and remain consistent with the rest of health care.