Dental neglect as a marker of broader neglect: A qualitative investigation of public health nurses' assessments of oral health in preschool children
Methods: A qualitative study was conducted in Scotland during 2011/12. Sixteen public health nurses were recruited purposively from one health region. Individual, semi-structured interviews were undertaken and data analyzed inductively using a framework approach. Results: Public health nurses assess oral health through proxy measures, opportunistic observation and discussion with parents. Dental neglect is rarely an isolated issue that leads on its own to child protection referral. It is part of a mosaic of issues associated with child neglect. It is other presenting issues that initiate a response. Barriers to intervention are that dental neglect may be unseen' and unspoken'. The study revealed a communications gap in the care-pathway for children where significant dental problems are identified.
Conclusions: Clear guidance for public health nurses as to what to look for - and how - is required. Improved two way communication between child dental care providers and public health nurses is necessary to close the gap in the care pathway. Public health nurses take their child protection role seriously, but rarely make a prospective link between dental caries and child neglect.
Learning Areas:Public health or related nursing
Public health or related research
Explain the importance of dental neglect in children as a serious public health issue Identify the means by which public health nurses assess oral health in children Assess the relationships between child dental neglect and broader neglect Disscuss the barriers to child protection intervention in relation to dental neglect.
Keyword(s): Child Abuse, Oral Health
Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I was a co-applicant on the grant. I am Professor of Child Protection and have been involved in this field for 20 years.
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.