219239 Giving a voice to the ‘silent epidemic': Examining existing barriers and oral health outreach for low income Mexican American children

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Victoria Benson, Candidate for BAH , Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity, Stanford University, Stanford, CA
Eunice Rodriguez, DrPH , Department of Pediatrics, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA
Issues: A 2000 Surgeon General Report declared oral health disparities among low-socioeconomic status (SES) minority children a silent epidemic. Mexican American children have disproportionately high occurrences of oral disease compared to Caucasians. To understand and address oral health disparities in this fast-growing population, community interventions promoting preventative oral health must be evaluated. Description: A non-profit organization's home-based outreach program in Santa Clara county seeks to inform parents of the importance of oral health, teach preventative practices, and provide resources for accessing professional dental care. The program is examined using a participant phone survey (n= 168) and two focus groups (n=19) in order to understand how the program prepares recent immigrant Mexican families to address oral health barriers. It also explores cultural oral health-related practices and their possible role in health disparities. Lessons Learned: According to survey and focus group data, the program was successful in teaching preventative oral health practices. Improvement is needed to address lack of dental insurance as reported by 26.4% of participants. Lack of time available to dedicate to oral health and negative experiences with dentists were frequent themes in focus group discussions. Oral health practices appear to relate more to low SES than common cultural practices. Recommendations: The home-based meeting program appeared helpful in promoting positive oral health practices and could be offered to other Mexican immigrant communities. Improvement could include providing resources to help parents locate appropriate dentists. Further research should examine dentist-patient relationships and how this may contribute to current oral health disparities.

Learning Areas:
Conduct evaluation related to programs, research, and other areas of practice
Diversity and culture
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs

Learning Objectives:
1. Formulate an enhanced design of oral health prevention strategies among Mexican immigrant communities using the identified areas of improvement. 2. Describe the significance of 3 oral health access barriers specific to Mexican immigrant Families.

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I conducted this research on an oral health outreach program for my honors thesis. In order to gain the skills necessary to conduct this research I completed two different classes that taught me how to conduct both qualitative and quantitative research. Furthermore, I have solid knowledge of racial health disparities in the U.S. and my undergraduate degree (focused on public health and education in communities of color) helped me gain this knowledge.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.