Online Program

A study of consumer opinion of midlevel dental providers

Monday, November 2, 2015

Jody Bishop-Pullan, RDH, MPH, Dental Division, Stamford Department of Health and Social Services, Stamford, CT
The current lack of accessible oral health care suggests the need for research into innovative solutions to meet the public’s oral health needs. The development of policies and plans to address ways to improve access to dental care for the underserved is important to individual and community health. The purpose of this study was to determine the potential for consumer acceptance of the use of midlevel dental providers in Connecticut. A cross-sectional survey design was used. Participants (n=53) were a non-probability sample of parents of children and adults who receive services in school and community dental clinics in urban areas of Connecticut. The most frequent reason reported for delaying or forgoing care was the high cost of dental care (76.4%), followed by lack of dental insurance (61.7%) and inability to pay insurance co-payment (23.5%). Participants reported a moderate level of agreement on perceived skill of dental therapists compared to dentists (M = 2.05, SD = 1.04). The frequency of acceptance for services in the proposed expanded scope of a dental therapist was dental fillings (75.5%), extractions (71.7%) and prescription of medications for pain or infection (67.9%). The results were similar for parents’ acceptance of the services for their children, though slightly higher. Independent t-test results showed significantly higher acceptability of services from a dental therapist for those not having a regular place for care (p = .01) or not having a recent dental visit (p = .02). 

Learning Areas:

Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
Identify barriers to dental care Discuss consumer acceptability of dental services by a dental therapist Explain the relationship between access to care and willingness to be treated by a mid-level dental provider

Keyword(s): Oral Health, Workforce

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: As a dental case manager, I am aware of the barriers to dental care faced by underserved populations. My focus is ensuring children who are in need of dental services receive care. I have studied the topic of mid-level dental providers to present as course work to masters level students and have advocated for public policy changes in the State of Connecticut.
Any relevant financial relationships? Yes

Name of Organization Clinical/Research Area Type of relationship
Stamford Department of Health and Social Services Dental Employment (includes retainer)
University of Bridgeport Dental Hygiene Employment (includes retainer)

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.

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