Sedation in NHS Highland: An Audit and Reliability Study


This project looks at how dental sedation need is both assessed and provided for in NHS Highland. Within the study dental sedation need is being investigated both at an individual and population level in terms of 4 W’s - who, when, where and why? The study is being carried out by Dental Health Service Research Unit in collaboration with Cathy Lush and Joanna McKerrow from the Public Dental Service in NHS Highland. Funding for this project was provided by NHS Highland.

Aims and Objectives

The overall aim of the project is to assess dental sedation need within NHS Highland primary dental care through two specific investigations:

  1. An evaluation which estimates the current level of dental sedation provision within NHS Highland in both NHS salaried and NHS independent clinics
  2. A reliability study which examines whether the Index of Sedation Need (IOSN) is a suitable, valid and effective support tool in the assessment of dental sedation need for adult patients in NHS Highland

More than 100 dentists who work within the NHS from across the Highland area have already responded during the first part of the study. They have been providing information about when they provide sedation for their patients and where they access dental sedation services within the area as well as details of their own training and experience.

The Index of Sedation Need was developed by Professor Coulthard from the University of Manchester and is a method of assessing how much or how little a person is likely to need sedation for dental treatment. We want to know whether this is a suitable, valid and effective support tool for dentists in NHS Highland to use when assessing who is anxious and may, therefore, require some form of sedation for dental treatment. Participation will benefit patients by measuring their level of anxiety before a dental appointment and will also help the dental staff to decide if and why some patients may require sedation for dental treatment and others may not.


The results of these investigations will be used to provide recommendations for dental sedation assessment and service provision in NHS Highland.

Research Team

 For further information about this study please contact the Dental Health Services Research Unit at the University of Dundee.