Online Program

Access to oral health care in Georgia: A geographic information systems (GIS) assessment

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Jorge Bernal, DDS, MPH, GA Department of Public Health, Atlanta, GA
Khusdeep Malhotra, BDS, MPH, Community Health Planning and Policy Development, American Public Health Association, Washington D.C
Limited access to oral health care services, an aging dental workforce and the high dental practice costs all combined, produce an oral health care workforce crisis in Georgia. This project uses Geographic Information Systems (GIS) approach to pinpoint locations in Georgia where there are dental practices vulnerable and underserved individuals—including racial and ethnic minorities, people with special health care needs, older adults, pregnant women, populations of lower socioeconomic status, and rural populations. In 2012, the Georgia Oral Health Coalition (GOHC) identified access to oral health as a top priority and convened a summit to collectively address the issue. Key partners developed action steps for seven regions to look at where people live, how they travel and where these practices are. Coverage maps were developed describing areas with no dental services and areas where the closest dental office is at least one or more counties drive away from residents' homes.

This presentation examines the potential of GIS in aiding policy makers and advocates in planning coordinated responses to improving oral health, using three examples. Policy initiatives emerging from this mapping include the Georgia Dental Association (GDA) census, public participation GIS to empower and engage communities, and integrate GIS using US Census data to develop a task force to address demographic and socio-economic access disparities in a culturally and linguistically sensitive manner.

Similar projects can be undertaken by the oral health field in delivering improvements in the areas of oral cancer, increasing diversity within the dental workforce and better educating communities.

Learning Areas:

Advocacy for health and health education
Communication and informatics
Diversity and culture
Other professions or practice related to public health
Provision of health care to the public
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Describe a GIS-based approach examining geographic variability in access to oral health care differences, making possible the precise identification of under- or over-served regions, and guiding targeted policy initiatives to improve access.

Keyword(s): Access and Services, Oral Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been the principal or co-principal of federally funded projects focusing on GIS and access to care, oral health prevention programs. Among my scientific interests has been the development of strategies for preventing oral diseases as well find access to oral health care.
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.