Aims: To systematically review the qualitative evidence related to experiences of patients with temporomandibular disorders (TMD) and to explore their journeys within health care services.
Keywords: chronic pain, health care services, patient experience, qualitative evidence synthesis, temporomandibular disorders
Methods: A systematic search of the following databases was conducted: MEDLINE, Embase, PsycINFO, Web of Science, CINAHL Complete, and the Cochrane database. Thematic synthesis was used to analyze and synthesize the data from qualitative studies that explored the journeys of TMD patients within health care services. The Critical Appraisal Skills Programme (CASP) tool was used to critically appraise the quality of the included studies.
Results: The search strategies yielded 4,563 articles across all databases, and 18 articles were eventually included. Six themes were derived: care-seeking attitudes; expectations and health care experience; the patient-clinician interaction; diagnosis as a stepping stone for improvement; management; and social support.
Conclusion: The journey within health care services may play a valuable role in the ability to cope with chronic TMDs. Receiving a diagnosis, being listened to, and being believed are among the most important elements making for a positive clinical experience.