How compliant are dental practice Facebook pages with Australian health care advertising regulations? A Netnographic review

Dr Alexander Holden1

1The University of Sydney, Milsons Point, Australia

Background:The National Law that regulates the dental and other health care professions in Australia sets out regulations that dictate how dental practices are to advertise. This study examines the extent to which the profession complies with these regulations and the potential impact that advertising may have upon professionalism.Methods:A Facebook search of 38 local government areas in Sydney, New South Wales, was carried out to identify dental practices that had pages on this social media site. A framework for assessment of compliance was developed using the regulatory guidelines and was used to conduct a netnographic review.Results:Two hundred and sixty-six practice pages were identified from across the 38 regions. Of these pages, 71.05%were in breach of the National Law in their use of testimonials, 5.26% displayed misleading or false information,4.14% displayed offers that had no clear terms and conditions or had inexact pricing, 19.55% had pictures or text that was likely to create unrealistic expectations of treatment benefit and 16.92% encouraged the indiscriminate and unnecessary utilization of health services.Conclusions:This study found that compliance with the National Law by the Facebook pages surveyed was poor.


Alexander Holden graduated with a Bachelor of Dental Surgery from the University of Sheffield in 2011 and worked in public and private dental care in the UK, before moving to Australia in 2015. He has gained Masters degrees in law and dental public health. Alexander is registered to practice as a dentist in both the UK and Australia. Alexander is currently responsible for teaching within the Discipline of Professional Practice in the School. This area covers ethics, law, professionalism and communications as applied to dental practice. He is also actively engaged in clinical practice, as well as clinical teaching.