242863 Assessing Supply and Demand for Oral Health Services in Rural Southwest Virignia

Monday, October 31, 2011

Tanya Wanchek, PhD, JD , Weldon Cooper Center for Public Services & Department of Public Health Sciences, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA
Terry Rephann, PhD , Weldon Cooper Center for Public Services, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA
William Shobe, PhD, JD , Weldon Cooper Center for Public Services, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA
Southwest Virginia (SWVA), a rural, low-income region of Virginia, has among the poorest oral health outcomes in the country. One option that has been proposed to improve oral health is to open a dental school in the region. To examine the effect of a dental school we conduct an oral health needs assessment, looking at both dental demand and supply in the region. In order to understand consumer demand for oral health services, we compare dental utilization rates among uninsured, Medicaid, and privately insured individuals both within SWVA and across Virginia. On the supply side, we study the availability of dentists and dental auxiliaries in the region and conduct a survey examining the structure of dental practices. Taking into account both the supply and demand for dental services among different groups, we evaluate the economic feasibility of dental graduates remaining in the region and the expected contribution of dental school clinic services in treating low-income residents. We also consider alternative solutions, such as creating a dental school clinic with care distributed throughout the region, establishing a clinic and residency program in conjunction with a dental school located outside of the region, and expanding school-based oral health programs. The results are expected to inform policymakers about various cost-effective options for training dentists and improving oral health in SWVA.

Learning Areas:
Biostatistics, economics
Provision of health care to the public

Learning Objectives:
Evaluate the anticipated effect of establishing a dental school in a rural community on access to oral health for low-income residence. Identify cost-effective solutions for improving oral health in rural areas.

Keywords: Oral Health Needs, Rural Health Service Providers

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to present because I have conducted numerous economic studies of health care, focusing on oral health and mental health, and have gained an in depth knowledge of the provision of dental care in the process.
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.